Keith Cartwright addresses the Sequatchie County Commission to announce the end of negotiations with Erlanger for construction of a hospital in Dunlap. Erlanger representatives Stephanie Boynton and Joe Winick listen, seated behind Cartwright.
15, 2018 – Sequatchie County has been negotiating with Erlanger
Health Systems for the better part of two years on a plan to build a
regional hospital in Dunlap, but that plan is no more.
Executive and Board Chairman Keith Cartwright read a prepared
statement at the quarterly meeting of the Sequatchie County
Commission Monday evening, Oct. 15.
promised during our meeting in September, we did receive from
Erlanger a final written proposal in an effort to reach consensus
and move forward with this project,” Cartwright said.
“Unfortunately, based on the financial parameters under which
Erlanger Health Systems are required to do business, and the
commitment of Sequatchie County Commissioners to their taxpayers,
friends, and residents, the numbers and financial risk of building
and owning a 32 million-dollar critical access hospital are too far
apart at this time.”
representatives from Erlanger sat and listened as Cartwright
addressed the commission. Joe Winick, who serves in management for
the healthcare system, and Stephanie Boynton,
who oversees Erlanger Bledsoe Hospital and the Erlanger Sequatchie
emergency department, sat in silence as Cartwright spoke. Then
Boynton addressed a few remarks to the commission, but Winick
declined to speak.
pointed out that the county and the hospital had enjoyed a good
relationship for many years, during which Sequatchie County moved up
from being ranked 91 out of 95 counties in Tennessee with regard to
health, to 53rd
place, thanks in large part to the efforts of Erlanger. And while
this mutually beneficial relationship led to the proposed hospital
project, the two parties simply could not reach a compromise.
original and primary focus from the beginning,” Cartwright said,
“was to secure a contract that would meet our two-fold purpose of
bringing exceptional healthcare to our county, but only if it could
be done in a financially responsible way – in our case, it had to
be both revenue neutral and provide certain guarantees.”
basic proposal has been that the county would secure a loan to
purchase land and build a hospital for Erlanger, and the health
system would staff and manage the hospital, paying on a lease that
would eventually reimburse the county's investment.
a thorough review and consultation,” Cartwright said, “it is my
opinion as your county executive that this proposal does not meet the
thresholds we have required during this process, and therefore it is
clear that we can not responsibly agree to these terms. It would not
be in the county's best interest to move forward under these terms.”
said this “financial reality” was the fault of neither party, and
it did not preclude the possibility of building such a facility in
the future, “when the financial position of the county improves,
and when Erlanger Health Systems grows their business throughout the
Sequatchie Valley and surrounding counties.”
said that he had met with each of the 18 commissioners over the past
week to discuss the issue, and all agreed that they are grateful “for
Erlanger's continued presence in Sequatchie County, and we look
forward to other potential opportunities in the future...”
other business, the Sequatchie County Commission:
a plan to implement video-conferencing at the county jail, for
inmates to have their required visitation more conveniently, and
authorized Sheriff Coy Swanger to negotiate a contract with the same
company currently providing phone cards for inmates to purchase.
surplus items from the county highway department, at the request of
Road Superintendent Eric Higgins.
Director of Schools Pete Swafford announce that the Sequatchie County
High School (SCHS) girls' soccer team is the district champion for
the first time ever, and they will play in the regional championship,
at home, tomorrow night (Tuesday) at 4 p.m.
Sheriff Swanger report his department received 921 calls during the
last month, with 97 arrests / citations, and a total of 104 prisoners
booked into the jail.
bonds for three constables and Clerk & Master Tommy Goins.
Audit Committee Chairman Tom Vennero state that property tax cards
will be going out within the next two weeks, and that he anticipates
“a very good report for the county” from the state auditors.
new road names for two private roads on Fredonia Mountain, for the
purpose of 911 mapping.
a report on ambulance response from Will Pitt, of Puckett EMS, who
also informed the commission that the company is providing CPR
classes and discount purchase of Automatic External Defibrillators
(AED) to any civic or community group that is interested.
to a report from Comm. Jeff Mackey from the new Emergency Services
Committee, which is considering renegotiating the county's contract
with Puckett when the current contract expires in April. Mackey also
reported the committee discussed the need for the Fredonia repeater
to be moved to Wolf Pen and for a new repeater to be mounted on the
water tank in town, and allowing the wrecker services access to
transfer of funds amounting to $1,967 and $2,424 in insurance
Chip Kelly to the Sequatchie County Planning Commission.
Judy Layne and Raymond Farley as library trustees.
Resolution 724, reappointing the 911 Board.
Res. 725, opting out of the statewide building codes – which must
be done every time a new commission takes office, to prevent state
building codes being imposed on county residents.
- Heard Comm. Vennero speak of the loss of city commissioner Jeff Johnson, who died unexpectedly last week.
commissioners were present at Monday's meeting, and all votes were
next quarterly meeting of the Sequatchie County Commission is
scheduled for Jan. 28, in the county courthouse, beginning at 7 p.m.
A Budget Committee meeting will precede the regular commission
meeting, at 6 p.m. All meetings are open to the public.