Why did Dougherty Co. file a lawsuit against the GA Dept. of Community Health?

Why did Dougherty Co. file a lawsuit against the GA Dept. of Community Health?
Chris Cohilas says this lawsuit was filed to protect Dougherty County citizens. (Source: WALB)
Chris Cohilas says this lawsuit was filed to protect Dougherty County citizens. (Source: WALB)
Dougherty County Commission filed the lawsuit against the Georgia Department of Community Health to appeal the Certificate of Need for the Lee County Medical Center.
Dougherty County Commission filed the lawsuit against the Georgia Department of Community Health to appeal the Certificate of Need for the Lee County Medical Center.
Billy Mathis, Lee County Commissioner said the Lee County Medical Center was still break ground later this year. (Source: WALB)
Billy Mathis, Lee County Commissioner said the Lee County Medical Center was still break ground later this year. (Source: WALB)

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The Dougherty County Commission filed a lawsuit in Fulton County court last week and on Monday, Chairman Chris Cohilas said it's a move to protect Dougherty County citizens.

WALB News 10 also spoke with Lee County Commissioner Billy Mathis, who said the lawsuit will not prevent them from building the Lee County Medical Center.

"This is a lawsuit for the benefit of the Dougherty County taxpayers," said Cohilas.

Cohilas said the lawsuit was filed on April 18, against the Georgia Department of Community Health to ensure the state department properly evaluated and followed state rules in giving Dougherty County an opportunity to appeal the Certificate of Need for the proposed Lee County hospital project.

"The lawsuit itself will determine whether or not a Certificate of Need should be granted. So this could impact whether or not a certificate is actually granted," explained Cohilas.

The Dougherty County Commission said this lawsuit could cause the court to make sure the developer of the Lee County Medical Center is following the law in ensuring this hospital project will not negatively impact Dougherty County taxpayers.

"We have a huge number of indigent, poor patients who can not access healthcare, who will not get healthcare at this hospital," said Cohilas.

Mathis said they plan to move forward, even if it's without the help of Dougherty County.

"We have a Certificate of Need to build a hospital. Dougherty County's recent action in filing a lawsuit is simply a nuisance to us. We're going to build a hospital," said Mathis.

"We have no problem with the Lee County hospital existing so long as it follows the rules and it doesn't hurt the citizens of Dougherty County and it's taxpayers," said Cohilas.

WALB reached out to the Georgia Department of Community Health about the lawsuit, we have not received a response at this time.

However, the Dougherty County Commission will have a special called meeting Tuesday to discuss pending litigation.

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