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Clay Commission Encourages Collins To Move On Hospital

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Clay Commission Encourages Collins To Move On Hospital

The Clay County Commission supports the city of Celina’s efforts to find a way to reopen the Cumberland River Hospital.

City Mayor Luke Collins approached the board during a Monday planning committee meeting, gauging interest in a city-county partnership. Clay County Executive Dale Reagan said he recommended connecting hospital Owner Johnny Presley with Braden Health. The company specializes in reopening rural hospitals and making them profitable again.

“There’s a group out of Florida, doctors that have started up what they call micro-hospitals,” Reagan said. “I know in Decatur County they bought the hospital there and is in the process of operating it.”

Another option discussed was Celina purchasing the facility with some financial help from the county. According to County Attorney Jimmy White, state law does not allow a county to own and operate a hospital. However, a city like Celina can.

“The County Commission is in support of the hospital,” Commissioner Bryan Coons said. “We need a hospital for the city. As far as what Luke proposed, I am not for sure about the legality of the county owning the hospital and the city owning the hospital, so that will be something first to do a little more research on before we can say.”

During the meeting, Commissioner Dorothy Forney said the city and county could work together to help the people of the community.

“Micro-hospitals… had open one in Decatur County and maybe get with them like Dale suggests or Luke to get with them,” Forney said. “The city can buy the hospital. The county can’t I understand, but both of us together putting our heads together, we can get something going. Get the the hospital open.”

Forney said she did not recommend Hospital Owner Johnny Presley with operations going forward. Commissioner Elizabeth Boles agreed. Boles said she wants Collins to lead the negotiations with Presley to find a way to reopen.

“This county has turned into an older county, and we need the hospital for everyone,” Boles said. “All the younger generation are going to have to leave the jobs and everybody is coming in and buying up land, so we definitely need the hospital one way or another.”

During the meeting, Collins suggested that each commissioner go back to their districts to measure resident’s interest. Boles said she already knows that her constituents want officials to work together to make the reopening happen.

“We need it,” Boles said. “Even for our sports (…) if they get hurt, where are they going to go? Thirty miles away? And if we had the hospital up here, they would just take a few minutes to go up there.”

Collins said he planned to reach out to Braden Health and Presley to gauge interest.


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