BULLITT COUNTY, Ky. – A turf war is officially brewing in growing Bullitt County, south of Louisville. Two healthcare systems are now planning to build acute care facilities in the hospital-less county. The latest to announce such plans is Brentwood, Tenn.-based LifePoint Hospitals Inc. (Nasdaq: LPNT), which would like to build a 60-bed hospital. The news comes on the heels of a recent announcement that Louisville-based Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare Inc. (JHSMH) plans to convert its outpatient center and emergency department in Shepherdsville, Ky., just south of Louisville, into a 60-bed acute care hospital. JHSMH would spend about $60 million and add between 100,000 and 150,000 square feet of space to convert the 50,000 square foot Jewish Hospital Medical Center South into a hospital. Both systems have filed Certificate of Need (CON) applications with the state. After Jewish & St. Mary’s announced its plans, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear signed a regulation allowing such conversion projects to apply for an expedited, non-substantive CON review process – meaning the applicant would not have to demonstrate compliance with the state health plan. As a result, Jewish & St. Mary’s could have a head start on LifePoint, as the next decision date for non-substantive review is Sept. 25. The next decision date for acute-care hospitals under formal review – as would be the case for LifePoint’s proposal – is in February 2009. Lifepoint has not secured property for its proposed hospital.
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