(WBIR) After being closed a year and a half, Scott County's only hospital reopened its doors Monday morning.
The operator of the hospital, Pioneer Health Services of Mississippi, announced last week that the hospital will reopen at 8 a.m. Initially, the hospital will only provide lab work, radiology, minor surgery, and emergency room services. Pioneer said it plans to add more services in coming months.
"We had prayed for the hospital situation for a number of years," said Annette Newport, a dietitian for the hospital for 53 years. She came back to work on Monday.
"I'm so thankful and when they called me to come back to work, it was a mission of love for me."
As of early November, Pioneer hired a staff of close to 30 employees to operate the hospital. Pioneer said it hopes to add more medical providers, open family medical clinics, expand medical service lines, and recruit physician specialists in coming months.
"There was a core of 15-20 staff members, including nurses and dietary and everything, that cleaned the building, painted the building, got the building ready for this opening," said hospital CEO/administrator Tony Taylor. He said seeing the volunteer work to get the facility spruced up showed a desire to reopen.
The Scott County Hospital closed back in May 2012 when the contract to operate the facility ran out. The county couldn't reach an agreement with the former operator Health Management Associates. The county then made a deal with a company called S.M. Promen to reopen the hospital not long after the closure.
The deal fell through when Promen couldn't raise the necessary funds to operate the hospital, bringing the county back to 'square one.'
"Everyone kept saying 'what's next, what's gonna stop us from opening the doors'. Every time we turned around, there was a showstopper to keep us from keep on opening the doors," said Scott County mayor Jeff Tibbals.
The new "Pioneer Community Hospital of Scott" will offer emergency rooms, x-ray labs, pharmacy, and other amenities. However, it does not plan to offer baby delivery services -- unless the state steps in.
"(The state) allowed us to open the doors without OB services. It was a temporary 120 day (Certificate of Need)," said Taylor "Now we'll go back to the final hearing which will determine whether or not we'll need OB services at the hospital."
Taylor added if the state decides the facility does need OB services, then they will be added.
That will be decided when leaders meet in Nashville on December 18.
However, Newport said she's simply happy to work again.
"I'm so thankful we're back," she smiled. "Today, tears of joy."