PIKEVILLE, Tenn. — Erlanger Bledsoe Hospital has broken ground on its new $1.56 million, 6,200-square-foot medical office building, which will expand much-needed primary care to residents of the Cumberland Plateau and Sequatchie Valley at a time when many rural communities across the country are seeing similar services disappear.
The county-funded project has been more than 10 years in the making and is the result of a longstanding partnership between Erlanger Health System and Bledsoe County, county mayor Gregg Ridley told a crowd of community members, hospital staff and officials on Friday.
Ridley said that the county was in jeopardy of losing its hospital 20 years ago when its previous management company decided to leave, but local elected officials worked to strike a deal to become a part of Erlanger, which leases the property from the county.
"This hospital has thrived since then, and a lot of that is because ... the staff and the management that has been here are local, and I look around, all of our employees are local people — they're hometown folks — and we're so proud of that," Ridley said. "Now we move forward to the doctors' office, and we've been working on this for a while, yes, but good things take a while to get accomplished — especially in government."
The new facility adjacent to the hospital marks a significant upgrade from the modular building that currently houses primary care services. It will include 14 exam rooms, two procedure areas, a lab, a nurse station and physician offices and is planned to open in about a year.
Stephanie Boynton, CEO of Erlanger's Bledsoe and Western Carolina hospitals, said that in addition to primary care, cardiologists will rotate through the facility, and Erlanger hopes to offer additional specialties there in the future.
"It's going to be able to keep folks at home that would otherwise have to drive outside of Bledsoe County for their health care, and it's going to allow them access to care that they otherwise might not have," Boynton said.
Architect Vance Travis and the team from Chattanooga-based MBI Companies designed the building with a covered entry porch, sloping roof, stone base and siding to blend in with the surrounding neighborhood as opposed to the more industrial feel of typical medical offices. King Construction Group of Cookeville was awarded the construction contract.
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