Dec. 18 is the next important date for the Pioneer Community Hospital of Scott, when a state licensure board will take up the issue of Pioneer’s request to operate the Oneida hospital without providing obstetrician services.

State guidelines require acute care hospitals to provide an OB unit. Pioneer Health has applied for a permit to operate without providing OB services.

The issue once appeared to be a snag that would delay the hospital’s opening until at least early January. However, the state Health Services and Development Agency last month approved an emergency certificate of need, valid for 120 days, to expedite the opening of the facility.

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Ben Garrett is Independent Herald editor. Contact him at bgarrett@ihoneida.com. Follow him on Twitter, @benwgarrett.