The discussion concerning a new push toward obtaining a certificate of need for Floyd Medical Center for open heart surgery continued at the Floyd Healthcare Management board on Monday evening.

That answer may come sooner rather than later.

Floyd began a marketing campaign arguing the program is needed to address disparities in healthcare. The hospital claims the Rome area has significant issues for care — including a high rate of mortality from cardiovascular disease, and an even higher rate for African Americans.

Redmond Regional Medical Center has been the sole provider of open heart services in Rome since 1986. Floyd applied for a certificate of need to perform open heart surgery and was denied by the Department of Community Health two years ago. A legal battle ensued and the question went back to state health officials on April 14.

The application is on review and FMC President Kurt Stuenkel estimated to the board that he expects a decision within the next couple of weeks.

Floyd representatives are expected to visit the Department of Community Health on Tuesday, armed with the signatures of over 1,000 local people asking the state to approve the hospital’s request.

In a video played before the board, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ken Jones stated they felt that competition will be good for everyone involved. He cited an argument put forth by Redmond Regional Medical Center in their application for a certificate of need for its new obstetrics program.

“We think that patients deserve a choice. He also said ‘we think competition makes us stronger.’ I think Redmond and Floyd are both stronger when we compete — I agree with that,” Jones said in the video.

Stuenkel said outreach is key to providing community medical services and Floyd County would benefit from more outreach, regardless of whether or not FMC wins this particular request.

Citing an upcoming merger with Atrium Healthcare, Stuenkel told the board part of that deal entails a significant contribution — approximately $80 million — to the Floyd Healthcare Foundation.

“We’re going to have funds to do a lot of outreach,” Stuenkel told the board. “If we lose this we’re still going to do outreach, because it needs to happen.”

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