By Bethany Anderson and Tamas Mondovics
“Rural hospitals are finding it difficult to stay open lately,” said Johnson County Community Hospital spokesperson Chastity Trivette while addressing the topic of the facility’s current status in Mountain City.
Trivette emphasized that Ballad Health is making it possible for hospitals located in rural communities to stay open adding, “Johnson County Community Hospital has a vital role in our community.”
According to the Tennessee Citizen Action (TCA) in Nashville, Tennessee has lost 11 hospitals since 2010 and leads the nation in the rate of rural hospital closures.
Hospital closures prompt residents to call on lawmakers to come up with a solution.
TCA commented, “the closure of a rural hospital means that life-saving emergency care is farther away. And when a community loses its rural hospital, the impact is not just on health. Health care professionals are forced to look for jobs elsewhere, and it’s harder to recruit new industry.”
And what of Mountain City? The topic is by no means mundane as there have been many recent changes around town. The addition of several new businesses opening, older businesses closing, and others moving location, are hard to miss.
“There are plans to offer new services, including a Wound Care Clinic, Pulmonary Rehab and Home Sleep Studies.
Community Hospital spokesperson,” Chastity Trivette
One of those more noticeable changes that affected local healthcare has been the transition of Johnson County Community Hospital from being owned and operated by Mountain States Health Care to Ballad Health.
According to Trivette, there has been no loss of jobs, but also no creation of any new jobs at the hospital or plans to do so. There are also no plans to purchase any new equipment with the exception of an as-needed basis, which reasonably deserves some further dialog.
“We run a pretty tight ship,” Trivette said.
On the upside, while there are no plans to expand the hospital physically, there are plans to offer new services and according to Trivette, include a Wound Care Clinic, Pulmonary Rehab, as well as Home Sleep Studies. She also wanted to make clear that “there would be no change to the existing services though.”
When asked about the limited availability of medical tests such as MRI only being offered on Wednesday thanks to a mobile unit, Trivette replied, “We don’t have an orthopedic specialist or a neurologist on staff here, so, unfortunately, we are unable to provide those services daily.”
As for the rest of the state, many, including members of such organizations as
the Citizens of Tennessee
are looking to legislators, asking for community support and counting on lawmakers to come up with a plan to ensure that all Tennesseans in rural areas have access to the health care they need.
For more information on Johnson County
Community Hospital or
Ballad Health, please visit www.balladhealth.org/hospitals/johnson-county-