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Trustees appeal to state for McLaren

March 27, 2013 - Independence Township trustees expressed their support for the McLaren hospital project to elected leaders during their meeting, March 19.

Governor Rick Snyder, U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin along with U.S. Representative Mike Rogers and other elected state officials will receive a copy of the resolution.

According to Supervisor Pat Kittle, the communication represents an effort to "beat the positive drums of what this hospital can do for us" and "to counter the negative press and special interest groups" opposing the construction of a new medical facility in Independence Township.

In the resolution, the Township Board states McLaren has agreed to invest over $300 million for the project and "$1.5 million to renovate the I-75 interchange as well as pay their 'fair share' of infrastructure improvements."

In addition, their letter says the medical facility would create approximately 250 construction jobs for three years, and 1,300 people would be employed at the center once it is up and running.

"There is no community that I know of right now that deserves a hospital more than Independence Township," Kittle said. "It is a long ambulance ride to St. Joe's or Genesys," he added.

To build a hospital in Independence Township, McLaren needs to convince the Certificate of Need (CON) commission to allow relocation of 200 beds from their medical facility in Pontiac to the new hospital's proposed location on Sashabaw and Bow Pointe roads.

The CON commission told McLaren last year they would deny the proposal. According to Tulika Bhattacharya of the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH), McLaren was not able to "demonstrate that there is an unmet need in the community."

Bhattacharya said both Macomb and Oakland counties are overbedded by 1,097 beds only 2,946 beds are needed. Right now, Macomb and Oakland have 4,043 hospital beds. The number of beds needed is based on "on population and utilization rates that is supported by the hospitals," said Bhattacharya.

Despite the CON commission's proposed denial, McLaren is determined to build in Independence Township.

"The bottom line is we have not given up," said Greg Lane, McLaren Healthcare senior vice president at the Township Board's regular meeting, Feb. 5.

"We continue to move forward. We continue to expend funds on the project with our consultants, with our lobbyists. We are fully committed to this project," Lane said.

In addition to lobbying state legislators to amend Michigan's CON law and allow the hospital, McLaren has filed motions through the administrative appeal process to overturn the CON commission's decision.

"We are fairly confident it will go to hearing," said Lane and added, "even if we lose in the administrative forum, we will be in circuit court."

In a unanimous vote, the Township Board adopted the resolution. They will meet again on April 2 at 7 p.m. at Township Hall on Waldon Road.

Clarkston News reporter
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