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Piedmont and Emory File Lawsuits Attempting to Block Gwinnett's Open Heart Program
Gwinnett Medical Center continues fighting to secure crucial service

LAWRENCEVILLE - The open heart program Gwinnett Medical Center has spent years fighting for is yet again being held up by hospitals outside of the county.

Piedmont Hospital and Emory Healthcare have now turned to Fulton County Superior Court in their latest bid to keep vital open heart surgical services from being offered within Gwinnett County, the largest county in the nation without its own open heart program.

Gwinnett Medical Center learned that both Piedmont and Emory were filing court actions challenging the state's approval of the open heart program late in the day on Monday, the last day that the hospitals could file a legal objection in an effort to block the program.

"These court filings send a clear signal that Piedmont and Emory are not interested in what's best for the people of Gwinnett County," said Phil Wolfe, President and CEO of Gwinnett Medical Center. "It doesn't seem to matter to Piedmont and Emory that the people of our community, and the physicians who treat them, have voiced unwavering support. Nor does it seem to matter that the state approved Gwinnett Medical Center's open heart program over a year ago and reaffirmed that approval earlier this year following a lengthy administrative hearing and appeal process."

Gwinnett Medical Center applied for a Certificate of Need for its open heart program in January 2008. As a part of the state's review process, other hospitals were afforded an opportunity to file opposition, which Piedmont Hospital, Emory university Hospital and Emory Crawford Long Hospital each did. GMC received state approval in June 2008 for its program. Those three hospitals then filed administrative appeals. Following those appeals, the original approval was upheld by the Commissioner of the Department of Community Health in July 2009.

Wolfe added, "We are disappointed by the ongoing efforts to obstruct GMC from offering open heart care. Piedmont and Emory's objections have been heard and rejected. This court action is unnecessary and will further delay our ability to provide vital care to the more than five hundred Gwinnett County residents requiring open heart surgery each year. The bottom line is Piedmont and Emory are choosing a course of action that puts lives at risk."

"Gwinnett Medical Center will do everything in its power to bring open heart to Gwinnett and to expedite the court proceedings."