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Mt. Juliet city officials question UMC's opposition
Feb 17, 2005 12:00 am
University Medical Center's opposition to a certificate of need application for a surgery center in West Wilson County drew criticism from Mt. Juliet lawmakers Friday, who noted the city currently lacks such a facility.
Longtime local physicians Dr. Bob Kaelin and Dr. Gregory White have already received a certificate of need to provide MRI services at the Tennessee Sports Medicine complex off Mt. Juliet Road, which is under construction in Mt. Juliet.
The physicians' plans to include one operating room in the surgery center in the new development, however, was contested in a letter sent to the state licensing board by UMC attorneys.
The Lebanon hospital's opposition to plans for an operating room in Mt. Juliet raised the concerns of city officials there Friday.
"I honestly believe that what you're seeing is University Medical Center doing their best to protect their own interests from a business standpoint. However, as far as the welfare, safety and health concerns of the citizens of Mt. Juliet, I don't believe that this could be anything but a good thing," District 1 Commissioner Ray Justice said of the Tennessee Sports Medicine facility.
Justice's opinion was shared by District 3 Commissioner Ed Hagerty, who believes Kaelin and White should be able to bring their practice to Mt. Juliet.
"I strongly support Dr. Kaelin in putting that in Mt. Juliet," Hagerty said. " … I'm really disappointed that UMC would take that type of position against the citizens of Mt. Juliet."
A call to UMC for comment was not returned Friday. But according to the letter the hospital's attorneys submitted to the Tennessee Health Services and Development Agency, UMC maintains the new surgery center would "promote fragmentation of the health care delivery system in Wilson County to the detriment of existing providers and their ability to fulfill their roles in the community."
Mt. Juliet Mayor Linda Elam disagreed with the assessment, noting the planned surgery center would bring Mt. Juliet its first operating facility.
"I don't think that we have any ultra-sophisticated, high-tech medical services available in Mt. Juliet," she said. "This would be our first, and I think it would fill a need where there has been a void."
"I have met both Dr. Kaelin and Dr. White and found both of them to be top notch in everything that they've ever done," Justice said. "They have nothing but my utmost support."
Staff Writer Brian Harville can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 16 or by e-mail at email@example.com.