NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — For weeks even months the signs of trouble were clear at Jamestown Regional Medical Center but it was the "closed" signs, hanging on the doors that cemented the deep fear which has been gripping this community since the start of 2019.
Jamestown Regional Hospital, the only Emergency Room in Fentress County, closed its doors on Thursday after the hospital's CEO determined there were no longer enough supplies in the E.R. to stay open. Employees also learned that Rennova Health, which owns the hospital, hasn't been paying for liability insurance meaning anyone working at the facility was at risk for being sued.
Perhaps, the final nail in the coffin for this county's lifeline though came last Wednesday, after it lost all Medicare and Medicaid funding. That move came after it was discovered the hospital had nearly $4 million in unpaid bills and, among other issues, hadn't been sending employee's Social Security witholdings to the IRS.
"You could get mad about it, but what is that going to do," County Executive Jimmy Johnson said on Monday while sitting inside his office.
Johnson is frustrated the Rennova Health has failed to listen to his pleas to put the facility up for sale. The life-long Fentress County resident says he is confident he could find someone else to buy or lease the facility if Rennova Health would oblige.
"It's devastating for something like this to happen, when it could've easily been avoided. We're a small community. We need a hospital desperately. We need and Emergency Room desperately," he added.
The closure of Jamestown Regional means residents of Fentress County are forced to drive nearly 45 minutes to the next closest hospital in either Cookeville or Crossville.
150 doctors, nurses and staff all lost their jobs when the hospital closed.