The Curry Health Network board of directors has decided to bring on a law firm to investigate the legality of moving some Curry General Hospital beds to Brookings in order to make it a satellite hospital.

The board had previously hired the Neenan Group to consult on obtaining a certificate of need to establish hospital services in Brookings.

Brookings is one of the largest communities in Oregon without a hospital.

According to Andrew Bair, CEO of Curry Health Network, which operates Curry General Hospital in addition to clinics in Brookings and Port Orford, the Neenan Group recommended hiring a law firm to explore getting inpatient services in Brookings without a certificate of need.

The firm of Parks, Bauer, Sime, Winkler and Fernety LLP, of Portland, would be paid approximately $17,000 to perform an initial legal analysis to transfer some of Curry General Hospital's beds to the Brookings clinic.

Because Brookings is within 25 miles of two critical access hospitals - in Gold Beach and in Crescent City - it would not receive federal funding if it had its own hospital, hence the need to find another route to provide hospital services to Brookings.

By moving some of Curry General Hospital's beds to Brookings as a remote hospital under the same provider license, Brookings could have inpatient and emergency room services.

"It's a different avenue of trying to get hospital services to Brookings," Bair said. "We wanted to do something that could be less expensive and potentially shorter (than obtaining a certificate of need)."

While agreeing that hiring the law firm could provide answers about providing hospital services to Brookings, board members felt that hiring the firm should be covered by the fees already paid to the contractor, instead of additional money paid by the hospital. Bair said he would see if the Neenan Group would cover the costs of the law firm.

The Curry Health Network board of directors meets again on Nov. 25.