NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A Metro City Councilman said he will fight for a long time hospital for the needy that was promised to be downgraded to an outpatient clinic by Mayor Megan Barry.
District two councilman DeCosta Hastings said he didn't know about plans to downgrade Metro General Hospital until a press conference Thursday. The hospital has faced budget shortfalls for multiple years and a spokesperson for the mayor's office said patient numbers are low.
Hastings is co-chair of the Hospitals and Social Services Committee. He says he will fight for his constituents, who make up some of Nashville's poorest populations.
"Our we going to have to shake some things around? Yeah, maybe. We're going to do some things differently? Yeah, possibly. But what do we have to do right now? We have to stop and make sure things are taken care of for all of our constituents and the people that live in this city," said Hastings.
Hastings said the city plans to spend money on several large upcoming potential projects. He thinks healthcare should take priority.
"This is the city's hospital. This is the hospital that the taxpayers pay for. We were elected by the taxpayers. We have to work for the taxpayers," he said.
Among those surprised with Thursday's announcement were the employee of NGH themselves. One nurse contractor said many employees are not only worried about their own jobs, but the fate of those they treat.
"This is the only hospital that will take care of those who have absolutely nothing. It's wrong it's very wrong," said Zsolt Lagler. "They're homeless. They're impoverished and disenfranchised. They're going to die."
The mayor has said she plans to make a fund that will pay for healthcare for the needy.
"Our commitment is on making sure that folks have access to care," said the mayor at Thursday's press conference. "The providers of the care, we want to make sure that our indigent care is taken care of and we have a community out there that can help provide that."
She said she hopes to have a plan for NGH in the next six months. Until then, she'll ask the city council to fund the hospital until July 1, 2018.