Dan Buckner, CEO of Bedford County Medical Center and its replacement hospital, Heritage Medical Center, briefed Bedford County Board of Commissioners on the progress being made towards opening the new hospital on July 12.
Commissioners voted several years ago to sell the county-owned hospital to Brentwood-based Community Health Systems, with one of the conditions being that a new facility, considered essential for the hospital's survival, be constructed. The $40 million facility, which will have $10 million in new equipment, is being built in Airport Industrial Park.
"We want to be impressive," said Buckner.
Currently, said Buckner, BCMC is one of only two hospitals in the U.S. that doesn't have oxygen and other gases pumped through the walls to each room. It must still rely on portable tanks.
Buckner said that the facility isn't the only improvement. He said the hospital has hired customer service consultants for a three-year study. He said the additional examination rooms in the new hospital's emergency room will help reduce patient turnaround time. A new communications system will allow patients at the new hospital to contact their nurses directly.
Commissioner Billy King asked about recent reports that the existing hospital was operating at capacity. Buckner said the hospital hasn't filled anywhere near its licensed number of beds. (Nor have many other hospitals; tighter insurance requirements have dramatically shifted the balance between in-patient and out-patient care, resulting in fewer patients getting overnight stays.) It's possible that the hospital could reach the capacity of its current staffiing, he said, but that could be easily rectified within a few hours by calling in additional personnel.
Buckner said a number of new physician announcements are expected in the next month.
The new hospital is one of five that CHS is building this year.
Other items discussed by the commission Tuesday night:
* Commissioners approved John Houston (District 2), Wayne Tucker (District 5) and Robert W. Biggers (District 8) for seats on the Agriculture and Education Center board.
* Commissioners approved their colleagues Tony Barrett (District 7), J.D. "Bo" Wilson (District 5) and P.T. "Biff" Farrar (District 9), along with citizen members Durward Blackburn (District 3) and Margaret Stewart (District 5), for seats on the Bedford County Extension Advisory Committee.
* Commissioners approved the disposal of a surplus car by the Sheriff's Department to the Town of Bell Buckle, which is starting a police department.
* Commissioners praised Wilson for his work in researching the county's vehicle holdings and comparing them to insurance records. Among other things, Wilson found a junked car for which the county was still paying insurance premiums.