Sadness over closure of two local hospitals
"Makes you sad," said Keith Fortner, who was born at the old St. Mary's Hospital. He stopped by before the hospital finally closed to walk the halls one last time.
"It's been here for so long," he continued. "And it's meant so much for a lot of people in this community. It takes a bit of you away."
Tennova announced all services at Physicians Regional Medical Center, formerly known as St. Mary’s Hospital, and Lakeway Regional Hospital were to end at 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 28.
The hospitals stopped admitting new patients long before the closure date. They've been working since late October to transfer those that still need care.
“We have been working very closely with our medical staff, local EMS/first responders and other area providers to ensure a smooth transition of care for our patients,” said Tony Benton, chief executive officer for Tennova Healthcare in East Tennessee. “Our teams across the region have done exceptional work caring for our patients, their families and each other while we have undergone construction, moved services and transitioned to different work sites.”
According to Benton, the decision to close the Physicians Regional and Lakeway locations is designed to meet the needs and preferences of today’s healthcare consumers and support the way physicians prefer to practice.
“Delivering care in modern facilities designed to support current medical practices will best serve our patients and the community going forward,” Benton said.
WVLT News spoke with Senator Richard Briggs who claimed that consolidating these hospitals was a business decision and that the loss of the emergency room shouldn't be a problem for patients with real emergencies.
"They usually go to the front of the line, so to speak, but it's those that are less sick, but are still sick maybe they have pneumonia, maybe they have another problem. Rather than getting in 45 minutes or an hour or less it make take several hours to get in because there are so many more patients that are trying to be seen in the emergency rooms," Briggs said.
Regardless, when the doors close at the old St. Mary's Hospital, it will be the end of over 80 years of business.