Mayors of Jamestown and Fentress County say hands tied until hospital sold

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JAMESTOWN, Tenn. (WATE) – A rural hospital in east Tennessee won’t be getting federal reimbursements soon, and the local mayors are working to find a solution for the lack of emergency care.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid announced that Jamestown Regional Medical Center will no longer receive Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements as of June 12.

In February, a CMS report was released stating the hospital’s administration “failed to provide financial resources to meet the facility’s contractual responsibilities.”

The report also stated the facility wasn’t able to ensure money was available to pay 165 vendors who provided services to the hospital.

As of Jan. 30, Jamestown Regional owed $2,937,505.83 to its 165 vendors, plus another almost $350,000 for other provided services.

Lyndon Baines, the mayor of Jamestown, said a hospital in Fentress County is necessary. The next nearest hospital is about 45 minutes away.

“It’s a lifeline for the county and people are worried for their kids and for their parents and the elderly and stuff. And the nurses too,” Baines said.

Baines said he had been getting calls about the hospital since November.

The calls were either from vendors who hadn’t been paid, the utility company saying the hospital hadn’t paid their bills or rumors that the hospital was closing.

Baines also received calls about the hospital taking less patients, not having enough supplies, doctors quitting and ambulances no longer taking patients to Jamestown Regional.

He confirmed that the hospital wasn’t closing and didn’t plan on getting sold, and that it was no longer taking in-care patients, only out-care.

Patients can walk into the emergency room, but they will be stabilized and taken to a different hospital.

Baines said that his biggest fear is someone dying because they couldn’t get treated fast enough, or because all the ambulances were occupied.

“If we have a lot of patients going to Nashville or Knoxville, and you have a bad wreck here, I have ambulances out of the county, well now we have to worry about having the rescue squad, fire departments and stuff like that stepping up to the bat,” Baines said.

Baines said that was the backup he and Fentress County Mayor Jimmy Johnson came up with in that scenario.

They’ve also been trying to find out who will step in to take over the hospital if it closes.

Baines believes that without Medicare or Medicaid funding, it won’t be too long before it’s forced to close.

According to TennCare, about 30% of Fentress County uses Medicare or Medicaid.

Baines said someone has already mentioned they are interested in buying Jamestown Regional, but he’s called Rennova Health, the parent company of Jamestown Regional, and company officials said they weren’t selling.

He said either way, he and Johnson will continue to make sure Fentress County keeps a well-run hospital.

WATE 6 On Your Side has reached out to Jamestown Regional for comment, but hasn’t received a response.

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