ONEIDA (WATE) – For the second time in years, residents of Scott County may be without a hospital.
Pioneer Community Hospital sent a letter to the Tennessee Department of Health saying they are ceasing operation. The hospital said they regret the “drastic yet necessary course of action, but as it stands now Pioneer Health Services can no longer financially sustain operations.”
In April, Pioneer Health Service, Inc filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company cites changes to the healthcare industry for their financial strains.
In a letter to the state, the hospital’s administrator, Tony Taylor, cites “insurmountable financial distress associated with the operational cost and low reimbursement related to changes in CMS, insurance carriers, the State survey burdens related to new services and the required third party Emergency Room Physician coverage cost.” He says the hospital will be forced to close unless the state survey agency can assist with surveying the surgery department, which will support the revenue required to keep the hospital operational.
“What are we supposed to do without a hospital?” asked homeowner Ramona Byrge.
The hospital closed completely in May 2012 while it was under different ownership. The community spent a year and a half with no hospital.
“It makes me feel very sad. My mother had a stroke not long ago. If it had not been for Scott County Hospital, she would have died,” added homeowner Kathy Morrow.
Many in the community worry about the risks if the hospital closes down for a second time.
“Being here, that’s all we ever known. Get sick, we’re five minutes from the hospital and now you get sick and you’re an hour and a half away from UT,” said homeowner Keith Wilson.
“I think it’s awful because the county needs a hospital because kids are all the time getting hurt, people are all the time getting hurt and they need a hospital,” added Byrge.
Some homeowners say Scott County can’t afford to lose their hospital.
“We don’t know what we’ll do and if we lose a loved one because we don’t have an emergency room it’ll be hard on our hearts,” said Morrow.
Scott County Chamber of Commerce president Stacy Kidd was out of town and couldn’t go into many details, but says she’s hopeful the situation works out. Kidd adds she’s working with state leaders so the best possible outcome happens.
“Our rural hospitals and the access to care they provide are critical to our communities,” said Congressman Chuck Fleischmann on the closing. “I will continue to monitor this situation and work in Congress to support the citizens of Scott County,”