Clayton News-Star

State gives initial approval for new medical center in Clayton

The state has given conditional approval to a new endoscopy center that will go in this building on Lombard Street in Clayton.
The state has given conditional approval to a new endoscopy center that will go in this building on Lombard Street in Clayton.

The state has given conditional approval to an endoscopy center in Clayton, one that would operate outside the scope of Johnston County’s largest health-care provider, Johnston Health.

Wake Endoscopy Center announced plans earlier this year to expand an existing office building on Lombard Street. Wake Endoscopy, along with its real estate partner Five GIS Rex Properties, filed an application in April for a certificate of need from the state’s Division of Health Service Regulation.

The state, which approved the new center in September, requires health-care providers to prove why a community needs their proposed medical facilities or equipment.

Johnston Health opposed the new center in writing and at a public hearing it requested in June. The hospital’s chief exexcutive officer, Chuck Elliott, and other officials said Wake Endoscopy hadn’t shown it could work well with the local health-care community.

But Wake Endoscopy, which already serves local patients in leased space in Clayton, says it wants to provide residents with an alternative to hospitals.

Wake Endoscopy has leased space from N.C. Heart and Vascular at Johnston Professional Plaza, which is next to Johnston Health’s Clayton hospital. State records show that about 10 percent of Wake Endoscopy’s patients in 2011 came from Johnston County, and the group’s doctors say the need is rising.

Wake Endoscopy, which could not be reached for comment, will have to comply with several conditions to continue operating in Clayton. Those include obtaining accreditation within two years of building the facility and staying within the guidelines of its application, according to state documents.

From October 2012 to September 2013, Johnston Health performed 2,772 endoscopy procedures at its Smithfield campus and 708 at its Clayton campus, according to statistics provided by the hospital. At the public hearing earlier this year, Elliott said doctors from Wake Endoscopy performed some of those procedures.

“We’re disappointed with the state’s decision,” Johnston Health spokeswoman Suzette Rodriguez said in a statement. “Our campuses in Clayton and Smithfield are already offering convenient, easy access to all patients, as well as state-of-the-art equipment and highly trained staff and specialists to perform endoscopies and other GI procedures, and in settings that are safe and supported with surgical capabilities, if needed.”

Wake Endoscopy plans to purchase the Lombard Street building, where Labcorp rents office space. The center has said it will continue to lease space to Labcorp.

The proposed $2.9 million project calls for two procedure rooms, in addition to office space where doctors could meet with patients. Wake Endoscopy Center has a central office in Raleigh and a satellite location in Wake Forest. The center operates within a network of Raleigh Medical Group facilities.