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Major milestone reached in effort to get Scott Co. hospital back open

6:48 PM, Jul 19, 2013   |    comments
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It's a major milestone in the long effort to get Scott County's only hospital back open.

Mayor Jeff Tibbals was officially notified on Friday that the Tennessee State Attorney General has approved the Asset Purchase Agreement between Scott County and Pioneer Health Service.

"It's a good day for Scott County, a good day," said Tibbals.

The approval means that Pioneer can move forward with the business of getting the hospital,which closed in May 2012, reopened, which includes license renewals and agreements to accept Medicare and Medicaid.

Pioneer Health Service said it hopes to start seeing patients sometime in August.

"I think it's very feasible, I think it's very optimistic as well. I mean there's so much red tape involved in getting the surveys complete and your licensure and provider numbers and such, it's very optimistic," said Tibbals.

Tibbals said the hospital will be of even more value when the Emergency Room opens, which is not expected until November, according to Pioneer.

"When we get the ER open it'll be big on the county because our ambulance won't have to drive to Knoxville and the Campbell County ambulances to Jamestown to deliver patients from the county, which will have a huge impact for us as far as expenses on the ambulances are concerned."

The Emergency Room would also help cut time it will take for patients to get critical care. When the hospital was open, ambulance trips would take 23 to 25 minutes. Since it closed, roundtrips have taken two-and-a-half hours.

The deal also means that Scott County can hand the financial burden of keeping the building operating over to Pioneer. It's cost the county $10,000 a month on utilities alone.

Tibbals says that's a huge relief for the county, and calls this a major step closer to getting quality healthcare back to the people of Scott County.

"We've been very lucky we haven't had a major disaster," said Tibbals.

In anticipation of the approval, Pioneer has already hired 12 full-time employees, who have been working towards the reopening. They have also ordered new lab equipment, set up the phones and internet, and hired a company to clean the building.

Pioneer said it will hire more people and provide more services if the community supports the hospital.

That includes OB services, which will not be offered at the hospital. Pioneer said after the doors open, it will wait six to eight months to evaluate whether OB services are financially feasible.

When it reopens, the hospital will be called "Pioneer Community Hospital of Scott."

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