Rehabilitation hospital proposed on Tennova Middlebrook Pike site

Local News
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Three healthcare providers announced Friday they will partner to open a rehabilitation hospital in early 2021. Two of those are some of the largest healthcare providers in the area. 

Tennova Healthcare, University of Tennessee Medical Center and Kindred Healthcare announced Friday they are creating a joint venture to construct and operate a 57-bed inpatient rehabilitation hospital on land owned by Tennova near the corner of Middlebrook Pike and Old Weisgarber Road in Knoxville.

The inpatient rehabilitation facility will be named Knoxville Rehabilitation Hospital.

“I think there is some uniqueness of this, bringing together the providers to work on a needed project collaboratively, benefits the entire community. It’s a needed service,” said Tony Benton, CEO for Tennova Healthcare, East Market. 

Benton joined Senior Vice President for Strategic Development at UTMC Stephen Ross to announce the partnership. 

The executives say although a joint venture like this involving two of the major healthcare providers in the area might be rare, they’re hopeful it will have an impact. 

“[Without this rehabilitation hospital], patients are going to go out of the area to get this care, we won’t be able to handle the demand… to get a bed… this is really an important service,” said Ross. 

By the numbers

If the proposal is approved by the state, at a meeting held in June, executives say the hospital would be scheduled to open by 2021. 

  • 70,000 square foot rehabilitation hospital space 
  • 57-beds for inpatient treatment 
  • $45 million to build and open hospital, paid for equally by joint venture
  • 100 new jobs, locally hired for clinical and operational positions 
  • 11-county region service area 

The hospital will provide care for patients across an 11-county region with impairments resulting from a traumatic medical situation, such as stroke, serious spinal cord and brain injury, neurologic illness, major multiple trauma, and orthopedic conditions with complex or profound impairments.

“This will truly be a joint effort, relying equally on the expertise and talent of our three organizations,” said Joe Landsman, president and chief executive officer of UTMC. “We’re very excited to be working together with other reputable healthcare partners in our region—and at the national level—to do what’s best for our community’s healthcare needs.”

At the time Knoxville Rehabilitation Hospital opens for patients, Tennova will discontinue services at its 18-bed unit on Andersonville Pike and all 57 inpatient rehabilitation beds will be relinquished in order for the rehabilitation hospital to begin operations.

“A lot of things happen in East Tennessee that bring alot of people to the trauma center. A lot of individuals need this care to get back to their total healing and their everyday life,” said Ross, “The same is true for stroke patients, again, stroke incidents in east tennessee is a lot higher than other geographies in the country.” 

Neighborhood response

Since Tennova first bought the land in 2015, neighborhood associations in the area have been in conversation with hospital executives to ensure the development has a “positive impact” on the community. 

“Traffic flow is one of them [a concern], of course, we have connector roads from Middlebrook Pike to Kingston Pike, it would’ve gone through the roof with the hospital,” said John Heins, President of the Wesley Neighbors Community Association. 

Heins says he spoke with Benton a day before the proposed rehabilitation hospital was announced publicly and continues to keep the dialogue going if development moves forward. 

“We understand that property is going to be developed at one time, we just wanted it developed with respect to the neighborhood,” said Heins. 

Although the information is new, Heins says at first review, the fact that the proposed hospital is smaller than the originally proposed nearly 300-bed hospital is an improvement. 

Another neighborhood association, West Hills, President Donnie Ernst says he’s also been in contact with Benton. Ernst says the West Hills neighborhood association is made up of 1,300 residential homes.

These neighborhood requests include implementing a buffer between the development and the neighborhood, creating a greenway trail, and ensuring proper drainage from the property. 

The facility is expected to open in early 2021, subject to necessary regulatory and other approvals.

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