Unicoi County

Concerned residents writing letters to Attorney General about Unicoi Memorial Hospital

UNICOI COUNTY, Tenn. - The fight isn't over in Unicoi County; some residents are unhappy about the decision to have Mountain States Health Alliance take over control of Unicoi County Memorial Hospital.

To have their voices heard, they're sending a message to the state's Attorney General and those residents met Thursday night.

The group is throwing their support behind Wellmont Health Systems, and organizers say Wellmont does not have a thing to do with these meetings. Residents simply want one last chance for their hospital.

They lined up to gather information, hoping to change the future of the 48-beds at Unicoi County Memorial Hospital. Concerned residents are writing Tennessee's Attorney General and this meeting is to point them in the right direction. "[To] know how to contact him, what to say in the letter. We're [organizers] not going to write the letters for them, we're just giving them basic information," said organizer Jim Buchanan.

These letters will be asking the Attorney General to look at the Hospital Board's vote -- 5 to 2 -- in favor of handing over operations to Mountain States Health Alliance instead of Wellmont Health Systems.

"We as taxpayers of Unicoi County need to standup and say we need to vote on this," said resident Tina Jones.

Many did stand up expressing concerns. "I think because the board didn't reach out to the people, I think that's one of the faults on this whole process," added one resident.

Others, like J.D. Shook, say they're worried about the quality of healthcare and Unicoi County's economy, "They're [Wellmont] going to build a better hospital than Mountain States is."

While the vote has been tallied, these residents believe the battlefield has changed. "What Unicoi County people are asking for is a little bit of choice," added another concerned resident.

Organizers of this meeting say they're hoping to make a trip to Nashville and have a sit-down meeting with the Attorney General to discuss the future of Unicoi County Memorial Hospital.

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