Doubts About a New Radiology Center

By: Meryl Conant
By: Meryl Conant

Plans for a new radiology center in the Valley aren't sitting well with a local hospital.

Carilion Health Services, part owners of the Stonewall Jackson Hospital, is looking to open up the center in Staunton. Augusta Medical Center sees this as a bad idea.

The goal is to make scans more convenient for patients. But, AMC says the new center wouldn't offer anything faster or better than what it provides but instead could do some serious damage to the hospital.

"If they get the share of the outpatient market that they believe they will and they very well might it is a big deal for us," said Richard Graham, AMC's CEO.

That big deal could be the loss of $2.5 million a year.

"Community hospitals have all sorts of things we do that are at a loss, we don't get paid for," Graham explained. "This is not one of them."

Carilion Health System argues there are enough patients to go around.

"We're not trying to steal patients from anybody, " said Carilion's Eric Earnhart. "We see based on the state numbers there is a need for the service."

The hospital says there's a lot more at stake.

"That will impact what kind of doctors you get into the area," said Dr. Thomas Zumsteg, a radiologist at AMC. "It will make it harder to get good doctors into the hospital, where you probably need them most."

Carilion counters this is not an us versus them situation.

"We want to work with everyone in the region, including Augusta," Earnhart said. "We're not anybodies enemy. What we want to do is do what is best for the patients."

You can weigh in on what you think is best at a public hearing on December 21. Where that meeting will be held has not been decided.

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