UPDATE: CHI Memorial has been approved to bring cancer care to Ringgold.

The Georgia Department of Community Health approved CHI Memorial Hospital Georgia's certificate of need application to provide full-service cancer services with new equipment at CHI Memorial Parkway in Ringgold.

CHI Memorial said they plan to be providing full-service cancer services as early as September.

CHI explained that an appeal by Erlanger Health System is the only thing that could delay them. The project could be pushed back by two years or more while the issue is resolved.

"Erlanger’s application for a new cancer center in Ringgold was denied," a CHI spokesperson explained. "Only Erlanger can delay the community’s cancer care by trying to block CHI Memorial from providing care to the people of North Georgia."

CHI said this would deny hundreds of patients access to life-saving care near home.

“Each year, more than 500 people travel from this Georgia region for cancer care when they could stay near home for care”, Edward Arrowsmith, M.D., medical oncologist at CHI Memorial Rees Skillern Cancer Institute, said. “People should not have to travel great distances to obtain life-saving radiation therapy. Extensive travel for treatment can be exhausting for the individual and challenging for family members who are there to help.”

The community is being asked by CHI to take action through the CHI Memorial Now! Initiative by signing an online petition.

“Erlanger had its opportunity to invest in radiation oncology services over the three years it managed Hutcheson Medical Center, yet failed to do so”, Larry Schumacher, CHI Memorial CEO and senior vice president of operations, Southeast Division, Catholic Health Initiatives, said. “It also owned the land for its proposed cancer center for 10 years, but again failed to take steps to create a cancer center.”

Channel 3 has reached out to Erlanger Health Systems for a statement. They sent us the following:

"Erlanger was just notified of this decision yesterday at 5:00 PM. We respect the Georgia Department of Community Health’s decision. Our team is evaluating the various options relative to next steps in the CON process. Regardless, Erlanger will continue to focus on enabling greater access to high-quality health care in North Georgia," Erlanger Vice President of Operations & Market CEO Tanner Goodrich said.