MUSC trustees vote to pursue five certificates of need, research enterprise sets new record

Alumna Ann Kulze, M.D., to speak at May 2020 commencement

CHARLESTON, S.C. (Oct. 11, 2019 )
–The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and Medical University Hospital Authority (MUHA) Board of Trustees held their regularly scheduled meeting focusing, in part, on efforts that will expand access to MUSC Health patient care services. To that end, the board voted unanimously to support filing five certificates of need with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).DHEC must issue a certificate of need (CON) before certain types of health care acquisitions, expansions and creation of new facilities are allowed.

“Many of our patients have to travel great distances to access the compassionate, high-quality care that our MUSC Health teams provide,” said David J. Cole, M.D., FACS. “If these CON applications are approved, we will be in a position to bring MUSC Health closer to the communities that need our best-in-class services, delivering the right care in the right place at the right time.”

Lancaster Medical Center: Two CONs to be filed

MUSC Health Lancaster Medical Center will request to relocate roughly 100 inpatient beds from the current 225-bed facility to a new community hospital to be constructed in the northern area of Lancaster County. The relocation of beds is on pace with the rapid population growth of Indian Land, South Carolina, an area in northern Lancaster County that is the second-fastest-growing zip code in the state.

“Currently, there are no existing beds or emergency services in northern Lancaster County,” said Patrick J. Cawley, M.D., CEO of MUSC Health. “We are moving beds and quality care to where the patients are. We want to serve South Carolina residents in South Carolina by making top-quality care available in their home communities. In keeping with our delivery of care with a local community focus, it’s important to emphasize that the current MUSC Health facility in the city of Lancaster will remain open and continue to serve the patients and families in that geographic area.”

The exact location of the new MUSC Health hospital in the Indian Land market has not been determined, nor has a construction budget been developed. The new hospital is expected to provide a range of services that will include medical and surgical inpatient care, imaging, emergency services and outpatient care.

MUSC Health Lancaster Medical Center is the site for the second CON request as well. The facility has a need to renovate and upgrade the existing catheterization lab and add emergency PCI, which stands for percutaneous coronary intervention. PCI is a non-surgical procedure used to place a stent to open narrowed blood vessels in the heart.

Florence Medical Center: CON filed to relieve patient overload at existing ED

MUSC Health Florence Medical Center needs a CON in order to establish a freestanding emergency department (ED), which will provide the community with increased access to emergency services in the community. According to industry standards, the Florence Medical Center is well beyond capacity for emergency care, providing some 45,000 ED visits in 2018 through only 22 treatment rooms.

The Florence hospital’s previous owner, Community Health Systems, was granted a CON by DHEC for a freestanding ED in March 2018; however, that CON had to be withdrawn due to the MUSC acquisition of the facility. A specific location and costs for construction of the new ED are being evaluated and an increase in the workforce is anticipated.

Charleston: CON to enable most advanced robotic surgical microscope

On the main campus in Charleston, MUSC Health University Hospital needs a CON to acquire new equipment that will enhance patient care. The equipment is a fully automated, robotically controlled digital microscope with advanced visualization capabilities that supports multiple surgical approaches. This specialized equipment is considered the most modern technology in minimally invasive surgery, which leads to fewer complications, reductions in readmissions and repeat surgeries, and avoids the purchase of less high-tech microscopes.

Lake City and Kingstree: Via CON, new hospital to serve two rural communities

MUSC Health received board approval to file a CON to build a new replacement hospital, for no more than $50 million, to serve the health care needs of the Lower Florence County Hospital District and Williamsburg County. The new hospital is expected to be located on Route 52 on land donated by the Heath family.When the new MUSC facility opens, both Lake City Community Hospital and Williamsburg Regional Hospital will discontinue operations.

“Seeing this project move forward is gratifying for all of our team members,” saidJulie Floyd, chair of the board for Williamsburg Regional Hospital. “Since the historic flood that devastated our hospital building in October 2015, we’ve been serving patients through a temporary hospital, using modular housing. The MUSC Health replacement hospital will be a welcome solution and upgrade to the transitional facility.”

“Through this collaboration with MUSC, we will deliver increased access to high-quality care and connectivity to even more specialists. That’s an exciting prospect,” said Scotty Campbell, chair of the board for Lake City Community Hospital. “A new hospital with state-of-the-art technology will bring enhanced health care services to our communities, making a significant difference for residents who need and want to stay close to home, family and friends while they manage their health care needs.”

In February, MUSC and the two rural hospitals announced a letter of intent to move this initiative forward. As part of this approval, the Board of Trustees also approved a definitive agreement to allow this project to move forward.

Record-breaking research awards

In other business, the board received a report from Kevin Gray, M.D., assistant provost for Research Advancement, confirming that MUSC has once again surpassed itself. In fiscal year 2019, the institution brought in more than $284 million, breaking its own record as the state’s leader in garnering extramural funding for biomedical research. In fiscal year 2018, MUSC received more than $276.5 million in funding for scientific discovery.No other publicly assisted academic institution in South Carolina consistently garners near $250 million in research funding year after year.

“What makes MUSC special is innovation–the ability to discover and to translate new knowledge into advances that improve the care and lives of patients and families,” President Cole said. “The men and women whose talent and work brought our institution to yet another record-setting accomplishment are remarkable. What they are doing individually and collectively has significant impact and makes all the difference in the lives of those we serve.”

MUSC research focuses on a wide variety of areas including cancer, community health, drug discovery, health disparities, inflammation and fibrosis, heart and vascular, neuroscience, oral health, stroke and spinal cord injury. Learn more about research at MUSC or view the MUSC Research fact sheet.

The trustees also voted to:

  • Confirm best-selling author and wellness expert Ann Kulze, M.D., as the speaker for the May 2020 commencement exercises. A renowned authority in the fields of nutrition, healthy lifestyles and disease prevention, Kulze is the founder and CEO of Dr. Ann Wellness and has been featured on national media outlets from NPR, CNN Radio, and Time magazine to the Oprah & Friends radio channel and the Dr. Oz show. She graduated from MUSC with her medical degree and served as valedictorian of her class, subsequently working as a family physician for 14 years.
  • Approve a dual degree for students who want to obtain an M.D. degree and a Master of Science in Clinical Research (MSCR). Currently, the only dual-degree option for medical students interested in a career in medical science is the M.D./Ph.D. The M.D./MSCR will provide core competencies in clinical research without markedly extending the student’s training time. The expectation is that most students enrolled in the M.D./MSCR program will complete it in five years, versus the current four years to earn only the M.D. degree. The M.D./MSCR degree aligns with the MUSC mission as it prepares physicians to participate in biomedical clinical research, thus advancing new knowledge and discovery.

In a report from Tom Crawford, interim chief operating officer for MUSC Health – Charleston, the board heard about the construction delays that resulted in postponing the opening of the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital and Pearl Tourville Women’s Pavilion. The original move-in date was set for mid-October; however, there is no specific opening date available at this time. The mandatory evacuation due to Hurricane Dorian is another contributing factor to the delayed opening, since all construction progress had to stop due to the hurricane. MUSC leaders prefer to wait until all of the required regulatory and licensing processes are completed by the contractor before they release the anticipated opening date.

“Our team continues to work in close collaboration with our contractor to complete the work on this vitally important project in a thorough and timely manner,” Cawley said.

The MUSC/MUHA Board of Trustees serve as separate bodies to govern the university and hospital, holding two days of committee and board meetings six times a year. For more information about the MUSC Board of Trustees, visit


About The Medical University of South Carolina

Founded in 1824 in Charleston, MUSC is the oldest medical school in the South, as well as the state’s only integrated, academic health sciences center with a unique charge to serve the state through education, research and patient care. Each year, MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and 700 residents in six colleges: Dental Medicine, Graduate Studies, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. The state’s leader in obtaining biomedical research funds, MUSC brought in more than $276.5 million in fiscal year 2018.

As the clinical health system of the Medical University of South Carolina, MUSC Health is dedicated to delivering the highest quality patient care available, while training generations of competent, compassionate health care providers to serve the people of South Carolina and beyond. Comprising some 1,600 beds, more than 100 outreach sites, the MUSC College of Medicine, the physicians’ practice plan, and nearly 275 telehealth locations, MUSC Health owns and operates eight hospitals situated in Charleston, Chester, Florence, Lancaster and Marion counties. In 2019, for the fifth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report named MUSC Health the No. 1 hospital in South Carolina. To learn more about clinical patient services, visit

MUSC and its affiliates have collective annual budgets of $3 billion. The more than 17,000 MUSC team members include world-class faculty, physicians, specialty providers and scientists who deliver groundbreaking education, research, technology and patient care. For information on academic programs, visit