Letter: Rejection of heart facility all about money

It is outrageous that Atlanta hospitals Piedmont, Emory and Emory Crawford Long even appealed the state of Georgia's granting a Certificate of Need for open heart to Gwinnett Medical Center last summer. It is even more outrageous that the C.O.N. Appeal Panel hearing officer agreed that it was a mistake for the state to have granted open heart capability to Gwinnett Medical Center. What rural precedent was he looking at?

Consider this: Gwinnett County is the largest county east of the Mississippi without open heart surgery capability; we'll be a million people in the not-too-distant future. It is ridiculous that a citizen living in Gwinnett cannot get a heart bypass in Gwinnett, but must travel through worsening hellacious traffic to an Atlanta hospital that does have open-heart capability. Any doctor will tell you that time is heart muscle if you are having a heart attack.

So, this issue is obviously not about providing the very best health care to residents in the most efficacious manner or there would have been no question that Gwinnett County should have a hospital that had Georgia's permission to perform this important lifesaving surgery. This appeal is all about money. The Atlanta hospitals do not want to share the heart repair business.

Residents of Gwinnett should loudly protest this unreasonable decision to every legislator they know. Hopefully the uproar will be so strong that the Commissioner of the Department of Community Health will have to reaffirm the Department's original approval. And it ought to become a public relations disaster for the Atlanta hospitals to keep up their opposition.

- Gay Shook

Peachtree Corners