ONEIDA (WATE) - Scott County EMS Director Jim Reed says it still hasn't sunk in that the county's only hospital could be closing. However, he's been in contact with other areas that don't have hospitals and he's forming a plan to keep service running smoothly.
Scott County is bracing for the closure of St. Mary's Hospital, leaving more than 200 people jobless and many others without the medical care they need.
The hospital received notice Tuesday that it is shutting down, despite efforts to keep it open.
EMS couldn't have a better location for transporting patients to St. Mary's. The ambulance garage is right behind the hospital.
But that prime real estate might not be so prime if the hospital closes on May 24 as predicted.
"Bringing a patient in and having an ambulance back available is in the 30-45 minute area. I think now we're looking at every call, probably a minimum of two hours to possibly two and a half hours," Reed said.
He also says longer trips probably won't mean a huge increase in supply costs, but they require more gas and more frequent vehicle maintenance, so therefore more money.
"If we were in certain areas, we might possibly go to Fentress County if we were in the southwest part of the county. If we're in the eastern portion, probably over to LaFollette as Campbell County's there, and in the north, possibly even to Somerset or Jellico," Reed explained.
Patients have the same plan: to go to the closest hospital offering the services they need.
No matter what services a patient needs, Scott County EMS says they'll get them where they need to go.
"I hate that the hospital is possibly going to close, but the ambulance service, we're going to be here providing the same quality service we always have, and we're going to do it to the best of our ability," Reed said.
Hospital CEO Jack Bryan says they will not be accepting patients over the next week, and they plan to work with doctors and the county to transfer all patients to another hospital.