Doctor's long fight to open free standing surgery center finally over

Dr. Lee Birchansky in one of the operating rooms at the Fox Eye Laser & Cosmetic Institute. This center hasn't been used since 2012 because Dr. Birchansky could not obtain a state certificate of need.
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- After five tries over more than 10 years, a Cedar Rapids doctor finally got state permission to reopen his free-standing center for eye surgery.

The Iowa Health Facilities Council granted Dr. Lee Birchansky a certificate of need earlier this week. That decision came on a 3-2 vote.

Dr. Birchansky says he built the surgery center next to his office on H Avenue N.E. in 1998 and did surgeries there until 2004 under an agreement with St. Luke’s Hospital which had a state certificate for such procedures.

That deal expired.

And when the doctor tried to get his own state permission for a free standing center to keep doing cataract surgery and other procedures, he kept getting turned down.

He says patients should be happy it’s finally going to happen.

“My patients have been waiting for this day to come. They’ve been extremely supportive and patient throughout the years,” he said.

Dr. Birchansky operated his clinic without a certificate of need for some time until 2012. However, he had to quit doing procedures there under pressure from the Iowa Board of Health.

In June, he joined with the Institute for Justice in filing a federal suit to overturn certificate of need requirements that are used in 34 states. The group says despite the doctor’s success in finally getting a certificate, the suit will continue.

Dr. Birchansky says he says to get equipment re-certified and inspected but hopes to reopen his eye surgery clinic in a few weeks.