Tennova may build new West Knox hospital to replace old St. Mary's hospital

1:00 PM, Jan 10, 2013   |    comments
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Tennova Healthcare plans to purchase land in West Knoxville near the existing Dowell Springs Medical Park, where they could build a new hospital.

The 110 acres of land is on Middlebrook Pike near Old Weisgarber Road.  Tennova officials call it one of the fastest growing areas of Knox County.

"The decision to purchase this land was not reached overnight. We considered the changing needs of our patients, new methods of reimbursement, and healthcare reform," said Michael Garfield, Market CEO of Tennova Healthcare. "Purchasing an option on this land is the beginning of the process to ensure we are positioned to most effectively fulfill our mission and advance our vision for strong local health care and economic growth for our community."

Tennova will form an exploratory team of key stakeholders to come up with recommendations on the best way to use the property.  One possibility could be a replacement hospital for Physicians Regional Medical Center, the old Saint Mary's Medical Center located off Woodland Avenue in North Knoxville.

Officials say that hospital is still a vibrant, busy hospital, but the facility is aging.  It was built in 1933, when hospital care was very different.  There is also little room for expansion, and the cost to upgrade the facility is substantial.

"We have conducted an extensive review of Physicians Regional Medical Center's existing plant and several factors - including the age of the facility, the difficulty of access for our patients and physicians to quickly get in and out, the amount of land available for expansion and the cost of upgrading infrastructure - make it economically infeasible to renovate as such that it would be as efficient and patient-friendly as a newer facility," said Karen Metz, CEO of Physicians Regional Medical Center. "

Tennova promises that even if a new hospital it built, they would still utilize the North Knoxville facility for patient care.

"Regardless of the future of a new facility, we remain committed to providing the Oakwood Lincoln Park and downtown communities with access to high quality care, as well as to the continuation of our charity policies that were started by the Sisters of Mercy."

According to a press release, the exploratory team will look at potential uses for Physicians Regional Medical Center, should a replacement hospital be built, and will evaluate services that would be appropriate for the area, which may also include an Emergency Room/Urgent Care Center and post-acute services.

"Before a final recommendation can be made, much hard work is in front of us as we work alongside our physicians, associates and Board of Trustees through this process," added Garfield. "Our commitment to delivering quality patient care will continue to remain the focus of everything we do."

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