Hospital, sewer grant key issues at meeting

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The prospect of a new hospital and a grant for new ambulances were the hot issues at last week's committee meetings of the Scott County Commissioners.
With the papers to transfer ownership of the hospital from Pioneer to Rennova scheduled for Jan. 9, the reopening target of April seems to be a real possibility.
Hospital CEO Tony Taylor, who Rennova has hired to continue in that role, told commissioners that the transaction appeared to be on schedule.
In November, Rennova Health submitted an offer to buy the local assets of Pioneer Health for about a million dollars, which included the assumption of $450,000 in outstanding debt and a one-time cash payment of $600,000.
This hospital will be the first hospital operation for Rennova, which is primarily known as a diagnostic service and medical software solutions provider. According to Taylor, the company is launching a hospital division, which will be led by Joseph Herrod, who resides in West Palm Beach, Fla., but has ties to east Tennessee.
Taylor also told commissioners that the company is going to invest $500,000 in the hospital's infrastructure, including both cosmetic and mechanical improvements. Once the paperwork is signed, the company can then begin the process of hiring key personnel. Taylor indicated that much of the prior staff has expressed their interest in returning to the local facility. Over the course of the next three to four months, Rennova will have its work cut out trying to get state licenses and certifications. The company hopes to reopen the facility sometime in April.
When asked about services, Taylor told commissioners that the facility will offer most of the same services provided in the past, including a 24/7 emergency room, general in-patient hospital services, outpatient diagnostics and laboratory services. Taylor assured the commissioners that Rennova is structuring for the long term.
Herrod is expected to be in Scott County this week, and commissioners were told they could feel free to come by and visit.
Ambulance grants
Concerning the community development block grant, Mitch Loomis, community development manager with the East Tennessee Development District, told the Intergovernmental committee that Huntsville had not been able to complete the work on their current grant and could not accepts transfer of the sewer grant from the county.
Loomis told commissioners that the county had two options--retain the current grant award and give the Town of Huntsville time to complete its project or surrender the grant and make a new application.
While not guaranteed, Loomis believes that if the county gave the sewer grant back, it could apply for a new grant, which could be used towards the purchase of new ambulances.
The committee voted unanimously to recommend that the full board return the sewer grant.
During the emergency services committee meeting, Scott County EMS Director Jim Reed had told commissioners that he had identified a used ambulance in Denver, CO for $25,000 with only 78,000 miles on it. It was noted that the recent bids to remount an existing box on a new chassis had come back at $72,000.
After some brief discussion, Reed was encouraged to pursue the purchase of the used ambulance since the money was already available. No official action was required.
The community development committee briefly discussed residential building codes. It was noted that no opinion from the attorney general had been made yet and there were several other individuals that some commissioners wanted to speak with before making any decision. The committee delayed any action until a later date.
The building and grounds committee is set to have a special called meeting on Jan. 12 at 6 p.m. to discuss how the county should proceed with empty space in county owned property.
The commissioners will meet in their regular full monthly meeting on, Jan. 17 starting at 6 p.m. The meeting is always open to the public.

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