The future of Unicoi County Memorial Hospital will be up to a vote early next month. Board members will be holding a public meeting to discuss Mountain States Health Alliance's proposal to acquire the hospital.
News 5 learned UCMH Board Members started this move to help with the hospital's cash flow and long term goals.
Christopher Miller has a tough job mowing lawns, but he's lucky enough to live just a few blocks away from Unicoi County Memorial Hospital, "In case there's an emergency, it's quick access."
But access to healthcare in Unicoi County could soon be changing. Board members with UCMH will be voting next Thursday about Mountain States Health Alliance's letter of intent. If approved that means Mountain States will acquire 100% of the hospital, which already seems to be a perfect fit. "We're [Mountain States Health Alliance] serving 96% of the residents today when you combine us together," said Marvin Eichorn, Chief Financial Officer with MSHA.
Part of the proposal includes $1,000,000 contribution divided equally between the Town of Erwin and Unicoi County. "They were the ones to help get the hospital started, help get it organized. The reason it's [UCMH] a public entity is they nominate board members," added Eichorn.
Another aspect before the hospital is even built, Mountain States will form a plan to meet the community's needs. "Having a new facility is probably going to be more efficient, particularly since a lot of things have changed in healthcare," says Eichorn.
Some residents believe a change like this will be worthwhile. "Maybe if Mountain States brings more specialized equipment, I don't personally know what Erwin has, but maybe more people will stay around here," said Unicoi resident Philip Tipton.
News 5 learned included in this proposal, there's the agreement to employ all of the current employees at UCMH.
The public will have the opportunity to hear details of the proposal before the board votes, that meeting is on October 4th at 5:20pm in the hospital's board room.