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November 27, 2012

Scott hospital official addresses chamber of commerce

Should open with 25 beds after first of the year

WHITLEY CITY —  While no set date can be announced, officials are working steadily toward the reopening of Scott County Hospital.

    Last Wednesday, the McCreary County Chamber of Commerce hosted Irving Sawyers, president of S.M. Promen LLC. Sawyers’ new company has partnered with the Nashville-based Ameris Health Systems to purchase the medical facility, which closed at the end of May after the Scott County Commission failed to find another company willing to lease the facility following the departure of Florida-based Health Management Associates.

    Sawyers told the crowd that he is a 30-year veteran of hospital administration who has opened five facilities and has worked for Ameris in the past. About three years ago, he began to work toward building his own multi-hospital network — to which finding the right first hospital was key. Visiting Scott County for the first time in May, Sawyers decided that this hospital “had all the right bones” for him to begin as an owner/operator.

    While the hospital was previously operated as a “critical access” facility in which severe cases were sent to other medical centers, Sawyers intends to re-open Scott County as a general medical/surgical hospital — initially with 25 beds before incrementally expanding (about 10 beds per year) to 60.

    The question is when.

    The Tennessee Attorney General currently reviewing the asset purchase agreement. S.M. Promen has also enlisted an accrediting company to assist with the acquisition of a Medicare Provider Number, needed for payments.

    “You really can’t predict a legal or political process over which you have no control,” Sawyers said, “but everyone [we’ve encountered] has been interested in seeing the hospital reopen.”

    Sawyers himself is particularly committed to seeing the venture succeed, noting that he can’t build a new system if he gives the first hospital away.

    But the final key to the hospital’s success, Sawyers said, will be community support.

    The floor was then opened for questions. McCreary County Economic Development Director Susan Stephens asked about employees.

    Sawyers estimated that up to four employees were needed per occupied bed. He noted that one problem with the previous operation was “overdoing it with staff.” While not everyone will be hired back, Sawyers said he would try to rehire as many former employees as he can and added that resumes can be dropped off at the Scott County Administration Building.

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