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“Life and death need in the community,” Tennesseans speak out about lack of hospitals

Twenty-two counties across Tennessee are without hospitals.
Published: Apr. 6, 2021 at 11:23 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -Twenty-two counties in Tennessee don’t have a hospital. Morgan County is one of them and county executive Brian Langley says they’re making due by adding more paramedics to be on ambulances.

Langley says they’ve doubled the amount of paramedics, so when a patient has to drive anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour to get crucial medical attention, they’ll have someone there to assist.

Jellico is the most recent area to lose their hospital and resident Ben Johnson says it’s a “life and death need in the community.” As Mayor Dwight Osborne continues to search for a suitor for the vacant space, Johnson is hopeful that a decision will be made sooner rather than later.

The Tennessee Healthcare Campaign has been researching rural hospitals and the challenges they face. The healthcare campaign says, Tennessee has the highest rate of hospital closures in the country. Why? Executive Director Judy Roitman says it’s because patients are uninsured and aren’t able to pay their medical bills, along with a lack of health from state and local governments.

Roitman says a way to help the hospitals would be for TennCare to expand who they insure, so hospitals aren’t stuck covering the bills for those who can’t pay.

Right now, Mayor Osborne has yet to make an announcement on who will manage the hospital, or offer any insight as to whether the hospital will reopen or not.

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