Tennova Healthcare announced Thursday it plans to close Physicians Regional Medical Center in North Knoxville and Lakeway Regional Hospital in Morristown by the end of the year.

A release from the hospital group says all services at the two hospitals will be permanently terminated as of 11:59 p.m. on December 28.

“We will work with our medical staff, patients and local EMS/first responders to ensure a smooth transition of care,” said Tony Benton, chief executive officer for Tennova Healthcare in East Tennessee.

Tennova says they will grow capacity at North Knoxville Medical Center and Turkey Creek Medical Center, as well as enhance services at affiliated hospitals in Jefferson City, LaFollette and Newport.

Physician practices in Morristown – Tennova General Surgery, Lakeway and Tennova Primary Care, and Lakeway West – are set to remain open.

Tennova says many employees and physicians at Physicians Regional, formerly known as St. Mary’s, have already transitioned to North Knoxville Medical Center and Turkey Creek Medical Center. Job fairs are being held to help remaining employees.

“Winding down Physicians Regional Medical Center and Lakeway Regional Hospital will focus Tennova’s resources on enhancement of North Knoxville Medical Center and Turkey Creek Medical Center and development of new centers for services. Tennova is continuing in its work with local physician partners to pursue opportunities to develop new outpatient care sites, including the Middlebrook Pike property. The health system will announce those developments in the future as plans are finalized,” read the statement.

In Morristown Thursday, some community members still had questions hours after the announcement. 

“I have 7 children, so if my child is halfway dying and sometimes you have to sit a long time before you can get it. With just one hospital, I think that would be a problem,” said mom Esther Rudolph. 

Others say they weren’t aware of the change and were hoping a new hospital alternative would be considered within Morristown city limits. 

“I can understand that if you have one hospital you’re gonna have a longer wait, and I don’t think the patients will get as much care. They’re gonna have to wait,” said Marica Berman, a community member. 

Knoxville city leaders said earlier this month they are considering Physicians Regional Medical Center as the new city police and fire department headquarters. 

City of Knoxville and Tennova Healthcare officials said they are working together on a potential transaction to transfer the Physicians Regional Medical Center campus to the community.