Loxley Mayor Richard Teal expressed disappointment after the Certificate of Need (CON) Review Board denied South Baldwin Regional Medical Center's plans for a freestanding emergency department in the city.

However, he said the fight for the people is not over.

"We're disappointed," Teal told 1819 News. "We're not going to give up. This is just a start, so we will appeal and move forward with this, but we will continue to work for health care for the people in our city."

Teal said he spoke to the CON board about the needs of the people in his city. There are few medical options nearby for the town of over 4,400. Furthermore, thousands travel though the Baldwin County city every month.

Gulf Health Hospitals, Inc., which owns Thomas Hospital, North Baldwin Infirmary, Thomas Hospital at Malbis, and Mobile Infirmary Association, contested the CON, saying it has a facility six miles away.

"But if you know anything about Baldwin County, you know that's in Daphne and you know how bad the traffic is," Teal said. "There is a need in Loxley."

The governor appoints all nine members of the CON review board, which includes three consumers, three health care providers, and three governor representatives. Those who oppose the CON program believe the members could negatively impact medical facility growth throughout the state due to conflicts of interest.

State Sen. Larry Stutts (R-Tuscumbia) sponsored a bill earlier this year that would have exempted 47 rural counties from the CON requirement. However, that bill failed in committee.

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email erica.thomas@1819news.com.

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