ECM leaders hope for few hurdles towards new construction - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

ECM leaders hope for few hurdles towards new construction

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Some residents have appealed a decision to open a new hospital in the area. (Source: WAFF file) Some residents have appealed a decision to open a new hospital in the area. (Source: WAFF file)
FLORENCE, AL (WAFF) -

 An embattled plan to build a new hospital in the Shoals may soon be able to move forward without any holdups.

For more than a year, RegionalCare has faced opposition, fighting against appeals from people who do not want to see a new hospital in the area. But last month, a judge ruled in favor of the Certificate of Need Board's decision to approve a new facility in Florence.

This does not mean a groundbreaking ceremony is in the immediate future. Those who oppose the ruling still have until next week to appeal the decision. It's a move hospital leaders are hoping will not happen.

Medical leaders said the last few years have been a challenge, but they are ready to move on to the next step and bring plans for the new 280-bed facility to life.

"We're still very optimistic and very excited about it," said Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital spokesman Tom Whetstone. "We hate the delay as much as anyone, but that's the way the system works. We're just waiting to see what our next move needs to be."

Officials expect construction of the new facility to take anywhere from 24-32 months to complete once they begin. Leaders have created a committee in charge of determining what will be best for the original ECM facility, and have asked for residents' input.

The first committee meeting is scheduled for next week. Leaders said the possibilities are endless, but it will take the community to make whatever comes next a success.

"This is a very important campus," said city spokesman Phil Stevenson. "It's located in between two very important neighborhoods, so it's going to impact a lot of people. While we don't know exactly what would fit there, we want to make sure it's something that is compatible for the two neighborhoods."

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