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Lee County Hospital Authority: Americore 'in default' on agreement, negotiations continue

(WCYB/Caleb Perhne)

Lee County is still without a hospital eleven days after the deadline to open one. The hospital authority has sent a notice to Americore Health that they are in default on their agreement to reopen the hospital closed by Wellmont in 2013.

"We've got to have some assurances of what's going to happen or they'll be in complete default,” hospital authority vice chair H. Ronnie Montgomery said.

Americore bought the hospital a year ago, promising to reopen it by the end of 2018. That deadline has now passed.

Americore had been doing renovation work on the hospital, but since August, Montgomery hasn't seen any activity.

"If they can do that (open the hospital), fine. If they can't, we're just going to have to look elsewhere,” he said.

Negotiations continue with Americore, but Sheriff Gary Parsons said people are dying during the wait. With all volunteer ambulance services, Parsons said there aren't enough crews to make the long trips to Kingsport.

"You may have two rescue squads that have gone all the way to Holston Valley,” he said. “The turnaround time is probably three hours by the time they do everything and come back."

Virginia just gave the hospital authority an extra four years to get the hospital open. If Americore doesn't act soon, the authority will look for someone else, but it won't be back to square one.

"We're at a point where it will move much more quickly that it initially did with Americore."

There have been progress with updated wiring, plumbing and IT.

The Lee County Hospital Authority will meet again Monday night at 6 p.m. We reached out to Americore but we have not received a response.

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