Last day open for Parkway Regional Hospital

A local hospital will close its doors in just hours. Parkway Regional Hospital in Fulton announced in December it would discontinue the emergency services and in-patient procedures. Tuesday was the last day for employees.

Tuesday the hospital released s statement from acting CEO Dana Lawrence that says in part, “it has been a privilege to provide care for Fulton residents for the past 30 years. We look forward to continuing to serve the community’s medical needs at our Hillview South Clinic in South Fulton.”

Local 6 news crews were asked to leave the hospital campus Tuesday, and employees refused to speak. They were fearful speaking would prevent them from receiving their severance package. But, the overwhelming response from those who live and work in the area is “It’s sad.”

Fulton is where Karen Wilds works and raises her children and, with the hospital closing, she says her families and friends have already moved out.

Fulton County Judge Executive Jim Martin says closing the hospital was a business decision, but the county is still concerned with providing healthcare in the area, “We’ve been aware that there are issues here for sometime, but the announcement, we thought it was down the road, and it ended up being around the corner.”

Martin says they’ve been working to fill the void from the closing hospital, but doesn’t expect another hospital to take its place. He says, “It is their (Community Health Systems) building and they can do whatever they want, but they have said we will be able to market this facility for non-competing medical services.”

As for Wilds, she says she’s fortunate the clinic across the state line accepts her insurance, and is resigned to driving for health care. But it’s those who are leaving the area for good that causes the most pain. 

“It’s just heartbreaking for those families and the rest of their families might be in this area and then having to leave,” Wilds says.

Martin said he estimates of the 170 employees with the hospital, 100 of them have been able to find employment. This doesn’t mean they were placed in health care or jobs within the county –just that they were able to find employment.

The county will also be able to advertise for other companies to come to the hospital, but these potential companies can’t compete with any of the surrounding clinics. Examples are long-term care or rehab companies and groups.

As for getting all the services previously offered at the hospital, those services are split. Those with the hospital say their primary focus will go into offering patient care at their new clinic in South Fulton in this industrial park across from the high school.    

This includes primary care, CT or cat scans, ultrasounds, and x-rays. For emergency care, the options are at the hospitals in Mayfield, Union City or Martin, Tennessee. Check your insurance to find out where you’re covered.

Those in the area say it’s not ideal, but Eddie Crittenden with the Fulton/Hickman Economic Development says it’s just another bump in the road, 

“That’s certainly the goal, but at the end of the day we want to provide some kind of health care for the residents of the counties and surrounding region,” Crittenden says.

One reason for Crittenden’s optimism: Fulton’s unemployment rate fell more than nine points in two years. He says he hopes it will make the area more marketable to future industry.

The hospital also owns the clinic in Hickman. It will stay open for a time, although it’s unsure how long.

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