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Erlanger spokesperson gives update on regional hospital to Health Council

Stephanie Boynton gave an update on the planned regional hospital at the March 16 meeting of the Sequatchie County Health Council.

March 20, 2017 – Sequatchie County and the Erlanger Health System are waiting for the government go-ahead to build a regional hospital in Dunlap.

According to Stephanie Boynton, CEO of Erlanger-Bledsoe Hospital, the project requires two certificates to begin construction: Approval from the Medicare/Medicaid program as a “critical access facility” and a Certificate of Need from the state. As the featured speaker at the March 16 meeting of the Sequatchie County Health Council, Boynton gave an update on the regional hospital planned for Dunlap.

Once we get the Medicare/Medicaid approval, it usually takes about four months for Certificate of Need approval,” Boynton said. “I don’t have an answer as to the date.”

Late last year Erlanger and the Sequatchie County Commission came to an agreement on working together to build a 25-bed regional hospital in Dunlap.

This regional hospital will serve Bledsoe, Sequatchie, and surrounding areas,” Boynton explained. “It will be a system of care for the whole valley.” The Erlanger-Sequatchie Emergency Room treated over 24,000 patients in the last calendar year, she said, which helped confirm the need in this area for a larger facility.

The Chattanooga-based health system also plans an upgrade for Bledsoe County that will include a facility that can keep patients up to 72 hours, outpatient services, an emergency room, and physician’s offices.

The two dozen people attending the meeting then had questions:

Will we have a pediatrician? There is not a pediatrician in Sequatchie County.

There is a pediatrician in Bledsoe County, Boynton pointed out, but she said planners will “take that into consideration” when they begin looking at which specialties to attract to Dunlap.

Will there be physicians’ offices included?

We are not to that point yet,” Boynton said, “I would have to look at the drawings.”

Has a location for the new hospital been decided upon?

It’s not nailed down,” Boynton said. “We don’t have anything concrete. We’re waiting on approval.”

Once approval is given, how long do you think it will take until the hospital is constructed?

Probably two years,” she said, “but that is just an estimation.”

The Sequatchie County Commission and representatives of Erlanger Health System officially announced their intent to build a hospital in Dunlap at the Dec. 19 meeting of the County Commission. At that time, the Dunlap Mayor and City Commission presented $10,000 as their contribution to the effort.

In other business, the Sequatchie County Health Council:

o Announced a March 30 planning meeting for the 2017 Give a Kid a Chance.

o Announced a doctor coming to Dunlap Seventh-Day Adventist Church April 10 to speak on cancer prevention.

o Heard UT Extension Agent Aneta Eichler say nine plots have been leased so far in the new Community Garden, and a Tai Chi class begins Monday, March 20, with 13 registered for that so far.

o Announced a meeting April 26 at the Erlanger-Volkswagen Health Center to plan projects for a revitalized Kids First Program.

o Heard Chamber of Commerce Director Marlene Basham say the county may be receiving a donation of some acreage in the near future, next to the Valley Fest property, that will allow expansion of the location and events hosted there.

o Announced Hee Haw will be held July 13-15 this year.

The next meeting of the Sequatchie County Health Council is set for noon on April 20, at Pizza King in Dunlap.