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AU Health looks ahead to building Columbia County’s first hospital

Augusta-Aiken WRDW-TV logo Augusta-Aiken WRDW-TV 6/2/2021 Will Volk
a screenshot of a video game: The ongoing legal battle over who will bring the first hospital to Columbia County is finally coming to an end. The Georgia Supreme Court just denied an appeal from Doctors Hospital, paving the way for AU to build. © Provided by Augusta-Aiken WRDW-TV The ongoing legal battle over who will bring the first hospital to Columbia County is finally coming to an end. The Georgia Supreme Court just denied an appeal from Doctors Hospital, paving the way for AU to build.

GROVETOWN, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The ongoing legal battle over who will bring the first hospital to Columbia County is finally coming to an end. The Georgia Supreme Court just denied an appeal from Doctors Hospital, paving the way for AU to build.

This battle has been going on for about seven years dating back to 2014. But today’s decision clears the path for Augusta University Health to bring a 100-bed hospital to one of Georgia’s fastest-growing counties.

“It was unusual coming to a big county like this and realizing we didn’t have a hospital,” said David Petsch.

Petsch has lived in Columbia County for more than 40 years.

MORE | High court deflates Doctors Hospital’s hopes for Columbia County

There’s no hospital here, so to get medical service walk-in clinics have been the main option.

“It’s unfortunate a lot of people use those facilities that would probably be much better off in a full-blown hospital with all those facilities,” said Petsch.

A full-blown hospital has been in the works for a long time. AU Health bought more than 80 acres right off exit 190 near Grovetown where a “coming soon” sign has been up for years. Long enough for it to start cracking. But today’s decision clears the way for construction to start.

In a statement, AU Health CEO Katrina Keefer says in part, “This is a day we have been anticipating for quite some time.”

AU Health says it will re-evaluate its 2014 plan before continuing forward.

“We look forward to working with Augusta University and their leadership to get this project started,” said Columbia County Commission Chairman Doug Duncan.

He says finally having a hospital here will be a good thing.

“Having a hospital out in Columbia County will give us just a little more access, quicker access, y’know a lot of the growth has moved out into the outer reaches of the county,” he said.

“That would be very convenient for us out in the western side of the county, out in Appling that would be much more convenient and certainly appreciated,” said Petsch.

Columbia County and AU Health are finally moving forward.

“We’re just thankful this is finally over, and we can press forward,” said Duncan.

AU Health doesn’t have much to share yet about the timeline for this project. They need to reevaluate their planning, design and construction from seven years ago before moving forward.

Despite their appeal being denied Doctors Hospital is not giving up on Columbia County. Officials say while things didn’t go their way, they will be moving forward with building a free-standing emergency room in Evans instead of the hospital.

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