Scott County Hospital closure ends with vigil by workers

Scott County Hospital closure ends with vigil by workers

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ONEIDA (WATE) - The Scott County Hospital doors closed a little after midnight Thursday. After employees locked up for what might be the last time, they gathered in the parking lot for a vigil.

It was an emotional night as employees said goodbye, took pictures, held hands, prayed and sang Amazing Grace at the county's only hospital.

Financial woes have caused St. Mary's Scott County Hospital to close.

Employees treated one man shortly before locking the doors although they were already supposed to stop accepting patients. The man's family says the hospital was helping save lives even in the final hours.

On Thursday morning, about a dozen employees made up of medical records workers and business staff, still had to clock in to finalize paperwork for the company.

They will be able to keep their job for another 30 to 60 days, but in her spare time data processor Marcy Wilson says she'll have to look for another job. She still hopes the hospital will reopen.

 "Scott County is close people and we've had a lot of churches pray for us and we are going to come back," Wilson said. "I feel that with the Lord, we are going to come back."

Over the next couple months, while the business employees are finalizing paperwork, patients may stop by the hospital and pick up their medical records.

The hospital's closure ended decades of service for some doctors, nurses and other staff. More than 200 workers lost their jobs. Many are worried about emergency situations and having to drive more than a hour to get to a hospital.

Some employees say the hospital isn't just where they work, it's their life.

As the doors closed behind those leaving Wednesday, long time employees tried to remain optimistic about their jobs and the hospital's future.

"I feel like the Lord is working it out. There is going to be a miracle and the Lord has to close doors to open new ones," said Sandra Phillips, who has worked at the hospital for nearly two decades. Friday would have been her 18th anniversary there.

"We all will be back, and you know I'm not giving up hope. I've been positive all along and I'm going to keep being positive," Phillips said.

Other employees are also sad to see the hospital shut down. Thirty-three-year veteran June Hinder said, "It's the first job I ever had. It's the first job in my whole life and it's so sad. It's just been a way of life for me. It's just been really my life."

Scott County EMS will continue service and officials there have been offered help from other nearby EMS departments if the need arises.

"For the bigger things like heart attacks or strokes, we'll probably try to go to the bigger hospitals in Knoxville. We'll look at where there's orthopedics at, OBGYN. We'll give the patient the choice, tell them where it's offered at and see where they want to go," said EMS Director Jim Reed.

He feels assured his staff is prepared for its new role whether that is delivering babies or stabilizing patients until they arrive at another hospital.

Nursing home administrators are also worried about the additional transport time in the event of an emergency medical situation.

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