HANOVER COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia Department of Health denied HCA Healthcare’s ‘Certificate of Public Need’ request to bring the approximately $234 million project to Sliding Hill Road in Hanover County.

Back in August, 8News covered the news that ‘Ashland Hospital‘ was one of two competing proposals that aimed to improve healthcare access run by HCA Healthcare in Hanover County. The second proposal was a new medical imaging — and emergency — center run by Bon Secours. The future of that proposal is still up in the air.

In a letter released yesterday, Virginia’s Health Commissioner said that with ten existing hospitals in the area, building another hospital was unnecessary and would only further reduce utilization in already existing, under-utilized units.

The Virginia Health Department also noted that HCA’s request would involve relocating resources from ‘HDH-Retreat’ — a Richmond facility in a high-poverty area with a poverty rate of approximately 25% — to an area with a low poverty rate of about 5% in Hanover.

In the decision letter, the Virginia Health Commissioner also brought up Hanover EMS representatives who said “Ashland Hospital” would only save them five minutes in response time. HCA’s proposal largely hinged on the facility’s potential ability to cut driving time.

In a statement, an HCA spokesperson said, “While we respect the Health Commissioner’s decision, we are disappointed in the outcome.”

In a previous interview with 8News, representatives hinted that if “Ashland Hospital” was squashed, they would fight for a new HCA-run emergency center instead.

On Tuesday, both Bon Secours and HCA Healthcare reiterated that their focus has been on making healthcare accessible across the community, from urban cityscapes to rural communities.

It’s unclear at this point whether HCA Healthcare plans to file an appeal or if they have additional, counter-proposals in the works.

An important point to note is that just because HCA’s hospital plan was denied, it does not mean Bon Secours has the green light for their emergency center.