Court sides with hospital over CON for psychiatric unit

VICKSBURG — The Mississippi Supreme Court has upheld a decision that allows a Vicksburg hospital to open a 20-bed adolescent psychiatric unit.

The Mississippi State Department Health granted River Region Medical Center a certificate of need in 2011 over the objections of Diamond Grove Center of Louisville, Miss.

River Region planned to put the unit on a vacant second floor of its West Campus. The hospital also planned renovation of the second floor’s east wing.

A Hinds County judge upheld the CON last year. The Supreme Court did the same.

In 2001, MSDH approved a similar facility for Brentwood Health Management, called Children’s Hospital of Vicksburg. Brentwood was a sister company of Diamond Grove Center. Brentwood planned 20 beds for treatment of child and adolescent psychiatric conditions and 60 beds for psychiatric residential treatment.

The agency revoked the CON in 2007, citing inaction by Brentwood to advance the project. The decision was upheld in Hinds County Chancery Court.

After the Brentwood CON was revoked, River Region filed an application for the CON.

In its appeal, Diamond Grove argued that the Legislature in authorized a one-time CON for the Vicksburg area and issued a moratorium on all others.

Diamond Grove, which operates a behavioral health center, said once the Brentwood CON was revoked no other company should have been allowed to seek adolescent psychiatric beds.

Health Department officials said once the CON was revoked, it was as if it never existed so the 20 beds were still available. River Region adopted the same argument.

Justice Randy Pierce, writing Thursday for the Supreme Court, said the law clearly shows the Legislature intended to allow up to 20 adolescent psychiatric beds in Warren County despite any moratorium.

“The interpretation proposed by Diamond Grove would result in the opposite, preventing the addition of any such beds in Warren County,” Pierce said.

The state of Mississippi requires a CON in a process designed to avoid duplication of health care services and control costs.

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