No medical care now in Copper Basin area

By LARRY C. BOWERS Staff Writer
Posted 9/30/17

Beginning today, virtually no medical care, outpatient care, or emergency medical services are available in the Copperhill/Ducktown communities.

Polk County Executive Hoyt Firestone confirmed …

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No medical care now in Copper Basin area

Posted

Beginning today, virtually no medical care, outpatient care, or emergency medical services are available in the Copperhill/Ducktown communities.

Polk County Executive Hoyt Firestone confirmed Friday the Copper Basin Medical Center has shut down — effective today. The medical center has not been accepting new patients for some time, but has been providing in-patient and emergency services.

All other patients seeking medical care have been forced to seek treatment in Blue Ridge, Ga., Murphy, N.C., Cleveland’s Tennova Healthcare, or one of the hospitals in the Chattanooga area.

Beginning today, officials say all medical care will have to be sought at medical facilities outside of the Ducktown and Copper Basin area.

“This is just another step (in the failure of the medical center),” said Firestone. “They are even covering up the hospital’s entrance sign, so people will realize the complex is not in operation.”

The county executive said the hospital administrator and financial officer are attempting to discover what paramaters might still be available for the community medical center.

He said they are planning to travel to Nashville this week to talk with officials of the Tennessee Medical Association.

Firestone said hospital officials are trying to find out what options are available, and if there is the possibility of finding a buyer for the medical facility.

“They still have a permit, although they will not be operating, beginning today,” he said.

Firestone added the hospital’s continued problems are a major concern for the Polk County Commission, and officials in the communities in the mountain region.

The Polk County Commission recently took over the major portion of a loan the hospital had been unable to pay, with the city of Ducktown assuming ownership of a smaller portion. The city of Copper Basin was financially unable to purchase another portion of the loan.

This loan purchase enabled the hospital to continue outpatient and emergency care and seek other recovery options, until now.

Firestone emphasized Polk County, or officials of the mountain communities, do not have the expertise to assist the hospital in its recovery effort — adding to the concern.

The hospital’s fortunes are sure to be discussed at the next Polk County Commission meeting on Thursday, Oct. 19, at the Polk County Courthouse in Benton.

“The shutting down of the hospital is going to put everyone at a disadvantage,” continued Firestone. He said the private ambulance service in the two communities (American Medical Care) has been notified, and will now be the primary means of transportation for ill and sick residents seeking care in Blue Ridge, Murphy, Cleveland or Chattanooga.

The hospital’s website has a message that says: “We have suspended operation. We hope for a few short months, in order to obtain working capital (cash). The next 45 days will be our most critical period for survival. We have endured needed staff reductions, and are critically short on supplies.”

The website also states: “Copper Basin Medical Center in Copperhill was founded on the principle that excellent medical care should be available to everyone, and we strive to make our community and surrounding region a better place.”

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