NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — Eleven rural Tennessee hospitals have closed since 2010 with many of them shutting down in the last few years.
Dealing with it is a lingering issue for Tennessee lawmakers, but one of them thinks emergency care clinics could be a partial solution in areas where hospitals have closed.
“There are many factors why a hospital closes,” says West Tennessee Representative Ron Gant.
Nearby competition is one reason.
Rep. Gant says hospitals in northern Mississippi and Jackson, Tennessee contributed to the closing of a McNairy county hospital in his district.
Hospitals compete for patients he says, but larger medical facilities can be better equipped.
“A lot of time you have specialty care that requires patients to go to those other facilities,” added Rep. Gant.
But emergencies from car accidents to heart attacks have no boundaries.
Communities want facilities for emergency care to stabilize patients before they might go by medical helicopter to urban trauma centers.
Plans are being developed to build such an emergency care clinic in McNairy County partnering with a Magnolia Regional Health Center just across the Tennessee border in Corinth, Mississippi.
“This is an example of a hospital willing to invest $7 million in a community that’s for emergency care,” adds Rep. Gant.
The lawmaker says the state-required Certificate of Need for such an emergency clinic and the licensing are issues being worked out between the Mississippi hospital and the State of Tennessee.
Gant says there is “no silver bullet” to save rural hospitals, but the hope is that emergency care clinics will be a tool to save lives.
Rep. Gant also hopes that if all goes well, the emergency clinic partnership could be a model for other areas of Tennessee where hospitals have closed.