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Fentress Commission Funds UT Partnership

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader

Fentress County

The Fentress County Commission approved $25,000 in funds to proceed with a partnership with the UT Medical Center for a stand-alone emergency room.

County Executive Jimmy Johnson said the funds will help both partners complete the administrative tasks to get the project underway.

“We’re going to go into a 12-month (partnership) with them to get some hurdles covered, uncovered, or crossed,” Johnson said. “Whatever you want to call it with the state and also in Washington.”

Johnson said the Commission had no reservations about allocating the funds because emergency care is needed in the county. He said Fentress County has been working on this partnership since February, and as the COVID-related delays began to relax, UT re-approached the county to move forward with the project.

“We’re at the point where they have come back and asked if we are still interested,” Johnson said. “Of course, we are because of the situation with our hospital in Fentress County. Which this will not be a hospital. It will just be a stand-alone emergency room. Of course, a lot of you rural hospitals are going to end up in this same predicament, I believe.”

Jamestown Regional Medical Center closed in June 2019. Since then the closest hospitals are in Crossville and Cookeville. Johnson said, many times, ambulances have to serve as the emergency room.

“This is something the Commission is fully behind. It’s something the people of Fentress County have been wanting and have been needing and should have. We’re going to do everything possible to see that we can get this done.”

Johnson said he is comfortable entering a partnership with a solid organization like the University of Tennessee.

“They are not a fly-by-night organization,” Johnson said. “They’re a great organization, as everyone knows, and they’ve been there for years and will be there for many more years. Hopefully we can be a part of it, and it will be a great announcement for all rural counties.”

Johnson said he believes such partnerships will be the future on healthcare in rural communities.





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