Scott County reacts to Pioneer Community Hospital closing

ONEIDA (WATE) – The only hospital in Scott County is closing June 24. It was announced by the Tennessee Department of Health Thursday that Pioneer Community Hospital would close.

This comes after Pioneer Health Services, Inc filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April because of financial strains from changes in the healthcare industry.

Scott County Chamber of Commerce President Stacey Kidd told WATE 6 On Your Side that there are companies interested in buying the hospital.

She said she is sad that the hospital is closing. The Chamber of Commerce plans to bring an urgent care to the community if another hospital does not come to the area.

The Department of Labor and Workforce hopes to meet with hospital employees to help them find new jobs by providing a career coach, looking at resumes and more.

The Scott County Mayor’s Office told WATE:

“The Scott County Mayor’s Office, just like everyone else in the county, is heartbroken that Pioneer Hospital is closing. But we as the county, do not have a quick solution to this problem. Many of our community leaders have been talking with state and federal officials since the first announcement from Mr. Taylor.”

Related: Scott County’s only hospital to close on June 26

The hospital closing seems to be the talk of the town. So many people say they’re shocked.

“It’s really scary. It’s really scary,” said Mary Diaz of Helenwood.

“At 90, it’s frightening,” added Princess L. Reed from Oneida.

They’re worried about what they’ll do if there’s an emergency.

“I don’t have a heart condition but you don’t know. You don’t know when you’re going to have a heart attack. You don’t know when you’re going to have a stroke,” said Reed.

The fear of the unknown is trickling over the county’s ambulance services.

“We went through it before and we never thought we’d have to do it again,” said Director of Scott County Ambulance Service Jim Reed.

Currently there are five ambulances staffed every day, overnight two crews cover the county and two more are on call. Reed says that’s not going to change but with the hospital closing it means more road time as patients are taken primarily to LaFollette.

“It’s about 45 miles from here. It will cause us to have about a two, two hour and fifteen minute turnaround on each patient and that’ll be the best we have,” he said.

The worst would be going into Knoxville. Reed says the turnaround for an ambulance would be three to three and a half hours.

“Where’s our ambulances going to take us? I’ve had three strokes so that’s a long way to travel,” said Diaz.

Some, like Teresa Buttram, are accepting this fate for a second time.

“We’re a poor county so there’s not a whole lot of hope for us,” she said.

No matter the circumstances, first responders want everyone to know one thing. “911, we’re going to be there,” said Reed.

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