After minor clarifications in the purchase agreement, the hospital authority now hopes to close on the purchase agreement in mid-February, said Tom Clarke, Lee County Hospital Authority Commissioner.
"A lot of work needs to be done now," Clarke
told News Channel 11.
"We have to go through a number of different steps, but I think we have all the support and commitment we need from the community and from the state to make that happen for a July opening."
But medical services may return even before the July 1st target date for re-opening the hospital.
said the authority hopes to open an urgent care center at the Pennington Gap location on April 1st.
Tom Clarke, President and CEO of Kissito Healthcare in Roanoke and Councilman of the Lee County Hospital Authority (created 6 months ago), says on top of the Lee County community voicing emotional testimony for a hospital, the numbers speak to a need that exists.
"This is a community of 25,000 people.
And if you look at communities around Tennessee and around Virginia, it's sort of unheard of not to have a hospital in that size," Clarke
The absence of Lee County's only hospital, many say, has left a gaping hole in the region's healthcare.
"If you look at the closure of hospitals, they're usually very long processes, there's public awareness, maybe an urgent care center in its place.
There's usually a combination for primary care, and that type of thing.
Unfortunately, this was very sudden," Clarke
The tv station asked Clarke
if in his
and the Hospital Authority's research
, if he
felt there was any alternative that would have prevented closing Lee Regional Medical Center
"We feel very confident that we will be profitable out of the box, maybe the first year as we ramp up there will be small losses, but our forecast is for a profitable operation second year and beyond," Clarke
and other members of the Hospital Authority
sat down with Wellmont Wednesday, in a meeting he
walked away feeling positive about.
WJHL was told there will be an announcement within the next couple months regarding the Authority's
ability to purchase the hospital from Wellmont.
Keep in mind, the Authority
should also have word from the state on whether its Certificate of Need has been approved, by the end of the year.
The Certificate of Need is for the opening of a 25-bed CAH.
With Wellmont poised to make a decision on whether or not to merge and with what health system by the end of the year, Clarke
said after Wednesday's meeting, the Hospital Authority
is no longer concerned about how a potential merger could impact the sale of Lee Regional Medical Center
said, and Wellmont confirmed, that whatever agreement they come to will have to be accepted by any potential future merging health system.