AUGUSTA (AP) – The head of the state’s Department of Human Services has upheld a decision to allow Maine Medical Center and Southern Maine Medical Center to build a cancer treatment center in southern York County.

The decision by Peter Walsh, acting DHS commissioner, means that a competing group of hospitals would have to go to court to try to block construction of the radiation treatment center.

Those hospitals – York Hospital, Goodall Hospital in Sanford and Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover, N.H. – had appealed an earlier decision to award the certificate of need to the larger hospitals in Portland and Biddeford.

In a letter written last Thursday, Walsh wrote that the department believes there was no bias against the three smaller hospitals when Kevin Concannon, then DHS commissioner, awarded the certificate of need on Feb. 24.

Concannon’s decision reversed a recommendation by a DHS advisory board that gave heavy weight to emotional testimony favoring the community hospitals at a December public hearing in Wells.

Concannon decided that the panel unwisely discounted the superior licensing and accreditation of Maine Medical Center and Southern Maine Medical Center.

Town officials in Wells have expressed a preference for the site chosen by the York Hospital group, saying they are uncomfortable with the Route 1 site proposed by the bigger hospitals.

The Cancer Care Center of York County could be open by early- to mid-2004, said Wayne Clark, spokesman for Maine Medical Center.

AP-ES-04-07-03 1710EDT

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