Update on June 26, 2016: The Pioneer Community Hospital of Scott announced Sunday their emergency room has been placed on state of diversion.
The doctors are unable to see any patients in the ER at this time.
They placed this sign in front of the ER entrance.
All outpatient services are still currently available.
The hospital is scheduled to close Friday.
The closing of Scott County's only hospital has been delayed by a few days, according to hospital CEO Tony Taylor.
Last week, Taylor informed the state that Pioneer Community Hospital of Scott would close on Sunday, June 26. Now, he tells 10News that the hospital's parent company had moved the closing to Friday, July 1.
He wasn't told why the date was delayed, but is hopeful there could be movement behind the scenes that could prevent the hospital from shutting down.
Taylor said he doesn't know any details, but there is interest from other potential buyers.
Original story - June 16, 2016
Scott County's only hospital is closing its doors once again.
The administrator for Pioneer Community Hospital of Scott informed the state on Thursday that it will be closing at 8 a.m. on June 26, according to a spokesperson for the Tennessee Department of Health.
Earlier this month hospital administrator Tony Taylor notified the state that the hospital's ownership could "no longer sustain the financial losses being incurred at the facility."
The parent company of the hospital, Pioneer Health Services, Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on March 30.
Taylor said the hospital would have to close unless the State Survey Agency could assist with surveying the surgery department, which Taylor said would support the revenue required to keep the hospital open.
The Pioneer Community Hospital of Scott has closed before. The hospital, then Saint Mary’s, 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.'
In December 2013, it reopened as Pioneer, complete with new equipment and updates. However, the fresh look isn’t lasting, as history once more is repeating itself.
"First thing I thought of was tell me this isn't happening again,” said Dr. Steve Leeds.
We first met the pharmacist back in 2012, when the doors shut on his place of work the first time.
"I've worked at the hospital here for 30 plus years,” said Leeds. "If the hospital closes there will be patients dying, and we want to keep the hospital open just for that reason alone.”
He received the news early Thursday morning along with the other 100 plus employees. He says Pioneer has kept even the hospital’s CEO in the dark.
"I feel for everybody in this community, the patients, employees, physicians, and all of us are going to be put in a bind should this hospital close,” said Leeds.
He and other employees feel there are lots of unanswered questions as to the decision to close.
"Our hospital has been the most profitable hospital that pioneer has and continues to do so and makes a profit every month, so logic tells you why would you want to close a hospital that is your most profitable one?” said Leeds.
The building is more than just a place of work for Leeds, it's a legacy. His father was one of the original founders back in 1955.
"So I am in some way carrying on some of the tradition he helped found,” said Leeds.
There are a few hospitals nearly equidistant to the Pioneer Hospital of Scott.
When the doors close, patients would have to travel at least 39 miles away to reach the closest hospital, Jamestown Regional Medical Center. Google Maps estimates the drive takes about 50 minutes.
Leeds says ER employees estimate it will cost an extra $200,000 to maintain the ambulance service each year, in order to get patients to the facilities far away.
"Our county is one of the most impoverished in the state, and has one of the highest unemployment rates and this situation isn't going to help us at all,” said Leeds.
It’s a place that’s saved countless lives through the years, including Jeff Tibbals.
"If it wasn't for that hospital, I wouldn’t be sitting here,” said Tibbals.
A blood clot sent him to the hospital’s ER back in 2005. He’s watched the rocky pattern of the hospital both from a patient's perspective, and as former Mayor.
He believes these recent problems can also be linked to TN's rejection of the Affordable Care Act.
"The state refused to expand that service so that money is going to Arkansas and Ohio and other states instead of coming here, and that really impacts the profitability of your rural community hospitals, and the state needs to wake up and see that,” said Tibbals.
The future looks grim, but that isn't stopping the Scott County community from clinging to hope.
"Just want everybody to pray that good things will happen and the good Lord will provide for us,” said Leeds.