Rex moves forward with Holly Springs hospital

aspecht@newsobserver.comFebruary 4, 2014 

— Novant Health gave up on its yearslong effort to build a hospital in Holly Springs, clearing the way for Rex Hospital to build a 50-bed facility in the fast-growing town.

A state appellate court ruled in December that Winston-Salem-based Novant failed to make its case for building a hospital in Holly Springs.

The company applied to state regulators in 2008 for a permit to build a hospital and reapplied in 2011, losing both times at the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

The appellate court ruling upheld the state health agency’s September 2012 decision to award the hospital permit to Raleigh-based Rex Healthcare.

Novant informed Rex late last month that it would not appeal to the N.C. Supreme Court, according to Rex spokesman Alan Wolf.

Novant spokeswoman Caryn Klebba didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment.

Rex acquired a Certificate of Need from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services on Monday, Wolf said.

“We are pleased that the lengthy legal process is finally over, so we can turn our attention to giving southern Wake County high-quality medical care and services closer to home,” Rex Chief Operating Officer Steve Burriss said in a statement.

Holly Springs Mayor Dick Sears said the announcement lifted a weight off his shoulders. He criticized the state’s rules for acquiring hospital beds. The state allows only a fixed number of new hospital rooms to be built each year, and its decisions often result in fierce competition and endless appeals.

“It’s been (a) very difficult and frustrating event to get a hospital in Holly Springs,” he said. “There is no reason to go through a lengthy state process for something of need for something like this.”

Nearly 30,000 people live in Holly Springs, and that number is projected to grow to more than 36,300 by 2018, according to Town Manager Chuck Simmons.

The new hospital will be built on Rex’s Holly Springs campus, which opened in December 2011 at the corner of Avent Ferry Road and N.C. 55.

Rex expects to spend about 2-1/2 years designing and building the hospital.

Holly Springs staff will likely try to expedite the permitting process for Rex, Sears said.

“It usually takes 135 days to go through all the permitting reviews and processes,” he said. “When the developers of the Holly Springs Crossing came to us, we were so anxious to get it moving, we actually got the developer out of here in somewhere between 35 and 40 days.” Staff writer John Murawski contributed to this report.

Specht: 919-460-2608; Twitter: @AndySpecht

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