published Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

Sequatchie County holds out hope for ER


by Emily Bregel

Sequatchie County’s emergency room is on track to be converted into an urgent care clinic in two weeks, but county officials still are scrambling to find a new emergency services provider.

County officials have spoken daily with Erlanger Health System leaders about possibly taking over the ER at North Valley Medical Plaza in Dunlap, Tenn., County Executive Michael Hudson said.

“They’re our main prospect at this point. I would give anything if I could tell you they’re going to be” taking over the lease, he said. “We don’t have an answer as of yet.”

If the ER closes, the nearest emergency department for Sequatchie County residents will be at Grandview Medical Center in Jasper or at Erlanger Bledsoe in Pike-ville.

EMERGENCY CARE

Sequatchie County’s emergency room is on track to be converted into an urgent care clinic in two weeks, but county officials are still scrambling to find a substitute emergency services provider.

PLANNED URGENT CARE CLINIC

On Sept. 1, Grandview Medical Center officials intend to convert North Valley Medical Plaza’s emergency room into an urgent care medical clinic. Hours would be 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday.

Erlanger officials are studying the feasibility of taking over the lease for North Valley, a stand-alone emergency department with some outpatient services and an air medical helipad.

North Valley is operated by Grandview Medical Center, which leases the building from the county. But the 70-bed hospital — owned by Capella Healthcare — has said it will end 24-7 emergency services at North Valley because the program is losing money.

Erlanger is seeking a recommendation early this week from Stroudwater Associates, a health care consulting company, Erlanger Bledsoe administrator Stephanie Boynton said in a statement.

The hospital also is conducting a financial study using information from Grandview, she said.

North Valley Medical Plaza was projected to lose nearly $1 million in 2010, Grandview officials said. They plan to covert the building to an extended-hours urgent care clinic on Sept. 1, said spokesman Jamie Lawson.

County officials and residents are hoping Erlanger’s study will show that the emergency room’s operations can be sustained, Hudson said.

“I understand Erlanger’s situation. They have to know that it can be done,” he said. “I talk to them on a daily basis. They keep me up to (date on) where they are with the study.”

about Emily Bregel...

Health care reporter Emily Bregel has worked at the Chattanooga Times Free Press since July 2006. She previously covered banking and wrote for the Life section. Emily, a native of Baltimore, Md., earned a bachelor’s degree in American Studies from Columbia University. She received a first-place award for feature writing from the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists’ Golden Press Card Contest for a 2009 article about a boy with a congenital heart defect. She ...

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