Lee County

Lee Medical Center exploring options, will remain open

PENNINGTON GAP, Va. - Lee Regional Medical Center is exploring options for refining its care model to serve the needs of the community and the rest of Southwest Virginia.

Fred Pelle, the hospital's interim president, emphasized that the hospital will remain open and continue making important healthcare and economic contributions to the region. "Lee Regional has a rich history of serving the community with compassionate and innovative care by expert medical providers, and that tradition will continue," Pelle said. "But we are no different than other healthcare organizations around the country in our need to regularly review actual patient use of the hospital and plan appropriately."

"Everyone in the community can be assured that Lee Regional will continue to provide a robust collection of services that will improve patients' lives," Pelle explained.

One option under consideration is reducing some staffed inpatient services to match patient trends, although some inpatient beds would remain in operation in that model.

Lee Regional will continue to offer a multitude of services that have made it the hospital of choice for high-quality care for residents of Lee County and nearby communities.

These services include the recently expanded and renovated emergency department, outpatient surgery, imaging services, primary care and specialty physician services, such as cardiology. Lee Regional has been a leader in the area in the use of teleconsulting in which patients there can discuss their heart care with a cardiologist when he or she is not holding clinic at the hospital.

"Lee Regional Medical Center will remain the focus of Wellmont Health System's medical services in the county," Pelle said. "We understand discussion of potential changes can lead to much speculation and some concern in the community, but we want to assure Lee County residents that our hospital remains part of our healthcare delivery system.

"In fact, should this or another change be enacted, it could allow us the opportunity to explore new services and partnerships to best serve the medical needs of the community."

Pelle said the forces at play in this potential revision of care reflect trends in other rural areas of the country. A large majority of the care Wellmont delivers in these communities has switched from inpatient care to outpatient services.

"This means Wellmont, like all most health systems, will need to find the most cost-effective methods possible to continue delivering the best health care anywhere," Pelle said. "Being good stewards of our resources will allow us to continue to provide superior care and promote a culture of healthy living for everyone in Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee."

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