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County Commission to Accept Proposals for Management of Hospital

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The Wayne County Hospital Committee has met twice, on August 22nd and again on September 8th, to go over the RFP to be made available to those interested in managing Wayne Medical Center and the ambulance service.

The RFP (which stands for “Request for Proposal”) is a 20-plus page document that any person or entity interested in managing the hospital and ambulance service will have to complete and turn back in to the County Executive’s office.

The Hospital Committee is made up of Chairman Jim Mangubat, Commissioner Sherrie Powers, Commissioner Vickie Petty, Commissioner Logan Shull, Commissioner Patrick Butler, Commissioner Alvin Creecy, Commissioner David Martin, and Mr. Larry Haggard. Members of the committee have stated that they want the people of Wayne County to know that they are still working on the hospital situation and are trying hard to find a solution.

In December of 2022, the county commission, employees of the hospital, and most citizens of the county were surprised and distressed when Maury Regional suddenly announced that they would no longer be willing to extend their contract to manage Wayne Medical Center due to the massive amount of money they continue to lose at the facility. Maury Regional CEO Dr. Martin Cheney addressed the commission, stating that further financial studies had essentially changed the minds of Maury Regional Health board members, and they would be pulling out of the contract even if a new hospital facility were to be built. Prior to the announcement, Maury Regional Health officials had led the Wayne County Commission to believe that in order for MRH to continue managing the hospital, the county would have to build a new $60 million dollar facility.

In order to keep the hospital from shutting down, commissioners and County Executive Mangubat began searching for companies that would be willing to manage the facility. They heard from one group, Braden Health, who stated that their research had shown that the current facility should be able to obtain a waiver and qualify as a Critical Access Hospital (CAH). They went on to inform the committee that Tennessee has the most rural hospital closures per capita in the United States, which is a very discouraging statistic.

The most recent task in the process of moving forward with the hospital has been the Request for Proposal (RFP). The Hospital Committee has spent hours reviewing the document originally drafted by an attorney and have met to go over each page of the RFP to make necessary changes. On Thursday night, September 8th, the committee made final approval of the RFP. Committee members said that they really don’t know who all may be interested in taking on management of the hospital, but all RFPs that are turned back in will be reviewed in detail.

If and when a group is selected to manage the hospital, that management group will be responsible for applying to the state to officially declare Wayne Medical Center as a Rural Emergency Hospital (REH). This was previously decided by the county commission, and any entity taking over management of the hospital will be required to do so. If Wayne Medical is able to be certified as an REH, they will be able to maintain the emergency department, imaging, lab, and swing beds. In order to continue having inpatient beds, the hospital would have to be declared as a Critical Access Hospital (CAH). Although Wayne Medical is currently exempt from being declared as a CAH, various medical professionals and others have said that there is nothing holding back WMC from applying for and receiving a waiver. In simpler terms, if they are able to be declared as an REH first, they will still be able to at least keep the hospital doors open and provide all services besides inpatient care. Whoever manages the hospital should be able, if they so desire, to take the necessary steps to make it a CAH.

The Wayne County Commission seems to be fully dedicated to keeping our hospital doors open, and are trying to take the necessary steps to make that happen. The Wayne County News will do everything possible to keep our readers informed on the situation.

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