Kurt Stuenkel, Floyd Medical Center president and CEO, said Floyd Healthcare Management would be appealing the decision and he expects to have a hearing set and decision rendered sometime within the next six months.

The FMC project would have involved 6,400 square feet of new construction, 5,450 square feet of renovated space, add approximately two dozen new employees and cost $16.6 million.

"We're subject to the rules as they are written and the planning area for open heart surgery is the whole state of Georgia as opposed to looking at local situations and circumstances," Stuenkel said. "We feel there is an atypical barrier and that was our argument, that there is a segment of our population that their needs are not being addressed."

Stuenkel said he believes that lower income and African-American population groups needs are not being met by the only other open heart surgery provider in the Rome area, Redmond Regional Medical Center. 

FMC also claimed that Redmond’s average charge is 141 percent of the statewide average, however on page 18 of the 34-page ruling, the state determined that FMC did not present any evidence that Redmond denied service to a patient based on cost or ability to pay. "According to available data, RRMC provided 18.5 percent indigent/charity care for OHS patients in 2016." the ruling reads.

FMC indicated earlier this year that the hospital has had numerous patients receive cardiology services, but if they need cardiac surgery they have to be transferred to another hospital. Approving open heart surgery would negate the need for transfers and provider quicker service to patients.

The FMC application argues for an exception to level of service rules indicating that it would in all likelihood not perform a minimum of 300 procedures during the first three years following initiation of the service based on quality, cost and financial access.

Stuenkel said FMC is also appealing the state's approval for basic obstetric services at Redmond. Up to now, FMC has been the only hospital in Rome permitted to provide a birthing unit.

"Let's compete, let’s both have the same level of services," Stuenkel said. "Both should have been approved or both should have been denied, now we've got this uneven situation where they got what they wanted in both instances."