HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — A bill that would make it easier for new hospitals to open has failed in the South Carolina legislature.

Hospitals across the Grand Strand said they would have liked to see some reform to the certificate of need process.

With so much growth in Horry County, hospitals said expansion is needed. 

“It does slow us down, Grand Strand Medical Center CEO Mark Sims said. “This community is growing fast.”

“We do believe that we need to be able to move more quickly than we are right now,” Sims said. “So with the existing CON process in place, that’s not going to happen.”

Sims said that while the certificate of need helps things run in an orderly fashion, it also helps manage growth in the county.

“We’re already providing a service, and we want to be able to expand that service and we feel like we should be able to do that, and not have to go through the entire con process,” he said.

Conway Medical Center and Tidelands Health are also asking for reform rather than repeal.

In a statement, CMC said: “The CON program protects local hospitals, particularly small to medium sized, independent organizations, from large, aggressive competitors…They know and understand the needs of their community members better than competitors entering the market from the outside.”

“An efficient and effective CON program is critical to preserving South Carolina’s hospital safety net and helps ensure health care services meet community need,” Tidelands Health said in a statement.

CMC is waiting for approval from the state Department of Health and Environmental Control on a proposed facility along International Drive. The certificate of need for Tidelands Health Carolina Bays Hospital has been approved by DHEC but is being appealed by other health systems.

The same goes for Grand Strand Medical Center’s South Strand Center as it looks to add more surgical beds.

“It just totally slows us down,” Sims said. “Although we have the ability to do that, it’s because of the process. We have to file for a certificate of need and go through that entire process before we can fund the project and build it in.”