Leaders in Scott County are considering talking to a familiar group about running that community's closed hospital.
Scott County's only hospital shut its doors last May. More than 200 people were laid off.
Scott County Mayor Jeff Tibbals announced at a special meeting Monday three groups are now interested in operating the facility. SM Promen, LLC, used to have exclusive negotiating rights with Scott County over the facility, but a deal with them fell through February 28.
The interested parties include a group of former hospital employees that goes by the name Human Outsource, another company named Restoration Healthcare, and Pioneer Health Services.
The county has negotiated with Pioneer, on-and-off, about running the hospital since 2011. The reason it has never come to an agreement with that operator is two-fold. First, a contractual hurdle with the hospital's old provider, HMA, stopped the initial deal from getting done. Then, in 2012, the Scott County Commission decided to go with SM Promen, LLC, instead of Pioneer.
Mayor Tibbals said at the time the hospital's former employees liked what SM Promen had to offer in its deal.
At Monday's meeting, Pioneer gave county commissioners a paper describing what an asset purchase agreement with their company might entail if were to ultimately be selected.
The paper read that Pioneer would open the facility within 60 days of a purchase agreement being executed. That time would not include the 45 days the state attorney general would need to review a deal.
In that 60 day period, Pioneer's approach would be split up into two phases. In the first phase, which would last 45 days, Pioneer would reopen the facility's lab, radiology, pharmacy, respiratory, human resources, maintenance, medical records, administration, business office and purchasing departments. Then, during the second phase, which would last 15 days, Pioneer would reopen the facility's remaining departments: medical/surgical, nursing, and dietary.
After hearing Pioneer's preliminary proposal, the Scott County Commission voted to hold a special called meeting March 11 at 5pm to discuss whether it should exclusively negotiate with that company.
"Right now, I think our best choice due to the time frame is definitely Pioneer Health," said Tibbals.
He pointed out that in September, the county's license will have to once again go up for review to the state health board. Tibbals said that process could ultimately delay the hospital reopening.
However, he pointed out that with Pioneer, the health facility could open its doors again this summer.
"Hopefully, we'll be open in July," Tibbals said.
Lori Phillips-Jones, district attorney general of the state's 8th Judicial District, said she cannot wait for that to happen. She lives in Scott County and her district also encompasses the area.
She said the closed hospital has changed the way her department does business.
"We don't have a place where we can conduct an initial exam or x-rays or anything like that," Phillips-Jones said.
She also told 10News her office has had to rely on the county's EMS service to drive defendants to other county hospitals just to collect blood.
"Something as simple as DUIs, we don't have the ability to take defendants to the hospital to get a blood alcohol," Phillips-Jones said.