DHEC approves expansion of Summerville Medical Center

SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCIV) -- The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) has approved Summerville Medical Center's (SMC) expansion project.

In November of 2010, SMC applied to DHEC for a Certificate of Need for a $26 million facility expansion. The state's decision reinforces the immediate need for additional hospital beds in the Summerville and Dorchester County community. This bed expansion, which the State recognized and predicted, is crucial to providing the community the quality health care they need.

The 30-bed expansion will allow the hospital to attract new specialists to the area and further develop specialty care at the hospital. The project will also allow SMC to complete its goal of eliminating semi-private rooms, which will provide all patients with privacy, care and comfort.

In August, DHEC held a project review for the expansion project. The review included allowing Roper to present their opposition to the expansion project.

SMC CEO Louis Caputo says the State's approval to build sends a message that in South Carolina, the patient comes first. "We are pleased the state honored its own health plan and look forward to getting started on this much needed project focused on quality health care."

The construction project will add 30 medical/surgical beds to the 94-bed facility, convert 18 semi-private rooms to private rooms, add an eight-bed critical care step down unit and expand labor and delivery rooms. Construction will take approximately 36 months to complete. It is estimated this expansion will create 50 jobs within the facility and 250 construction jobs.

A spokesperson with Roper St. Francis issued the following statement on Wednesday afternoon in response to DHEC's decision:

"We respect the decision by DHEC but are disappointed that Trident is being allowed to take inconsistent positions in Berkeley and Dorchester Counties. Trident continues to disappoint with inconsistencies in its promises and in the data it uses to justify an expansion. It's a matter of math and in Trident's case the numbers don't add up," said Doug Bowling, VP and chief strategy officer, Roper St. Francis Healthcare. Unfortunately it is the people of Berkeley County who could be left without a hospital because of Trident's actions. Trident refuses to explain this very basic inconsistency: Trident says the Berkeley County population cannot support the two hospitals that are proposed for construction there, which would include a total of 100 beds. They contradict themselves entirely by asserting that Dorchester County's population, which is almost 1/3 smaller, must have 124 beds. It is for that reason that we must appeal."