Haywood County hospital reopens after 8 years of being closed
BROWNSVILLE, Tenn. (WMC) - The year 2014 was a hard year for the residents of Brownsville and Haywood County.
The hospital down the road from the city square closed its doors, and many in the area thought the closure would be permanent.
“It was boarded up and had minimal utilities on,” said Michael Banks.
Banks was on the hospital board in 2014 when the doors closed and has practiced law in the area for over 20 years.
Over the years, he assisted in the handoff of the building from the owner of Community Health Systems (CHS) out of Franklin, TN to a local non-profit.
The non-profit then handed the building off to the Haywood County School System and finally to the owner Braden Health.
In August, after millions of dollars in renovation, Haywood County Community hospital reopened its doors but only as a walk-in clinic.
It’s part of a three-phase opening process, and the hospital is currently in phase one which will end when the emergency room opens.
The hope is to open that and nine in-patient rooms by February 2023.
“Phase 2, we’ll start opening up more inpatient beds and adding mammography and ultrasound, as well,” Banks said. “Ultimately, we plan on being about a 45 to 49-bed facility.”
“Of course in 2014, when it closed, it was devastating to this county,” said David Livingston, Haywood County Mayor.
Leaders like Livingston and Brownsville Mayor Bill Rawls reflected on the nearly 8 years without critical care in the county.
People in need of emergency services had to be driven to either Jackson or Memphis for care.
“It was a very trying time for everybody in the community,” said Rawls. “Hospital services are something we take for granted.”
To see the light at the end of the tunnel, the opening of the emergency room, and more services to the immediate area is a relief for these two leaders.
“Not just for the future of Brownsville but for the present,” Rawls continued. “Having a pharmacy available to us 24 hours a day, having an emergency room, having a walk-in clinic, having diagnostics available in our community is key for industrial recruitment. It’s key for quality of life.”
“This is going to save lives,” Livingston said. “We’ve actually had people lose their life in transit to other healthcare facilities. Anytime you can cut down the time that you get between pickup and delivery to a healthcare facility, it’s got to save lives.”
Though the timing of the reopening aligns with the development of Ford’s Blue Oval City, which is being built less than thirty minutes away at the Megasite of West Tennessee, Banks says it’s purely coincidental.
The hospital reopening was announced before the Ford announcement, and though it’s a coincidence, the timing couldn’t have been better according to Banks.
“You know, all your elected officials love talking about Blue Oval City, but the people that I meet in Walmart and restaurants and just passing on the street, they’re more excited about the hospital opening,” said Banks.
Haywood County Community Hospital currently employs 24 people to run its clinic, but by the time the facility is fully operational, Banks says it should have roughly 140 people.
The CEO says qualified candidates have not been hard to come by for him.
“We have a lot of people in Haywood County drive out of the county to either Jackson or Memphis that are in the medical field,” said banks. “And so, they’re always looking to come back home, and we welcome the local faces.”
Should the emergency room open on February 1, 2023, Banks said Phase 2 would be about 6 months after that, and Phase 3 lasting another 6 months after that.
In 2024 they will have a fully functioning hospital back in Haywood County, a decade after closing, hopefully for the last time.
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