Cornwall, No; Broadlands, Yes

Cornwall, No; Broadlands, Yes

State Health Commissioner upholds his earlier decision about local hospitals.

Four months after a judge asked him to reconsider granting a certificate of public need for Broadlands Regional Medical Center, State Health Commissioner Robert B. Stroube has upheld his approval of the project.

At the same time, Stroube upheld his rejection of a certificate of public need for Inova Loudoun's request for 33 inpatient beds at its Cornwall campus in Leesburg.

Stroube had to reconsider both decisions after Inova Loudoun charged in January that the record on his Broadlands decision was incomplete, as it did not include e-mails that Stroube had received after the record was closed. Loudoun County Circuit Court Judge Theodore Markow agreed, but called the error "reversible."

The decision comes as a blow to Inova Loudoun, which has fought the 164-bed Broadlands hospital tooth and nail since Hospital Corporation of America announced plans for it several years ago. Inova Loudoun, then Loudoun Healthcare Inc., had claimed that a large hospital near its Lansdowne campus would threaten the smaller hospital's viability.

Meanwhile, residents of the Route 50 corridor have clamored for a hospital to serve that area and questioned the need for another hospital a few miles from Inova Loudoun. Currently, over half of Loudoun residents receive health care outside of the county.

In his first decision on Broadlands in 2003, Stroube agreed with Inova Loudoun, saying that Broadlands "poses a threat to the continued viability and independent existence of LHC — as essential community hospital."

That was before Loudoun Healthcare merged with Inova Health Systems, the largest provider of health care in the region.

In 2004, Stroube reversed his decision and approved Broadlands.

Inova Loudoun spokesman Tony Raker said that the hospital plans to appeal the latest decision.

"We are, of course, disappointed," Raker said. "We're not just disappointed for our Cornwall beds ... we're disappointed for the entire county as a whole. It is going to slow the development of high-quality medical services."

FOR BROADLANDS, however, the latest development is a victory.

Now all the for-profit hospital needs is a special exception approval from the Board of Supervisors to use its land in Broadlands for a hospital site. A public hearing will be held at Broad Run High School at 6:30 p.m. on June 22.

"We're hoping they can say, yes, you can have your special exception," said Broadlands spokesperson Megan Descutner.

Many Broadlands residents approve of a hospital in their neighborhood, but a recent county-wide health care plan approved for the county does not include the Broadlands site. For that reason, Chairman Scott York (I-At Large) voted against the health care plan, which was originally proposed by Loudoun Healthcare before being adopted as a county plan.