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Vanderbilt faces renewed challenge over plans for Rutherford County hospital

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Vanderbilt faces renewed challenge over plans for Rutherford County hospital

May 16, 2024 | 5:59 am ET
By Anita Wadhwani
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Vanderbilt faces renewed challenge over plans for Rutherford County hospital
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Vanderbilt University Medical Center. (Photo: John Partipilo)

A years-long dispute over Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s plans to build a new hospital in Rutherford County has landed in Davidson County Chancery Court.

St. Thomas Rutherford Hospital on Monday filed a legal challenge to the Tennessee Health Facilities Commission’s decision to grant approval for Vanderbilt Rutherford Hospital, a proposed 42-bed, acute care facility to be built near Murfreesboro.

The commission concluded in February that the hospital “would add much needed acute care capacity to Murfreesboro and Rutherford County and provide those residents with an additional hospital option.”

The commission’s decision marked a sharp reversal of an earlier decision by an administrative judge, who in 2023 denied Vanderbilt a so-called certificate of need, siding with three area hospitals who disputed a new hospital in the same market was necessary.

The judge concluded that all of the hospitals already operating in the area provide quality care, none of them was near capacity, all Rutherford County residents had “reasonable access to care” and that Vanderbilt was not seeking to provide services to underserved population groups — all criteria that state may use to approve a new hospital.

The challenge by St. Thomas Rutherford Hospital names Vanderbilt and the Tennessee Health Facilities Commission and asks the court to reverse the commission’s final order and deny Vanderbilt a certificate of need, required by state law before establishing a new hospital.

The other two hospitals who have previously contested Vanderbilt’s plans — TriStar StoneCrest Medical Center and Williamson Medical Center — have yet to file legal challenges.

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