State focuses on rural health care in 2021

walker cane.jpeg
Posted at 9:01 PM, May 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-18 23:57:01-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Tennessee passed several laws in 2021 to try to help provide health care to rural areas.

One of the laws, which eliminated the requirement for a certificate of need for reopening hospitals, could help a company expand in Tennessee.

Braden Health is reopening one of the rural hospitals that closed down in the past decade. The hospital in Brownsville is set to reopen in late October. A spokesperson for Braden Health said the company specializes in reopening rural hospitals.

"If you have the right people at the facility with the community support, your rural hospital can survive and it can really thrive actually," said Kyle Kopec, chief compliance officer for the company.

"We really function in a way to train those people and help them to stop the bleeding of the hospital and empower them to run the hospital in a manner it can succeed," he said.

The Brownsville hospital is already on track to reopen, but Tennessee removed the CON red tape so companies like Braden Health could continue to open other hospitals. The certificate of need is a process where an area's health care needs are reviewed by the state. It's a process that can take six months or more, possibly even years.

"It doesn't make sense if someone wants to go in and open up that hospital and use it for another purpose," said Tennessee Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton. "Whether it's a mini-hospital with an emergency room or substance abuse clinic, it doesn't make sense to make them jump through these government hoops to be able to provide that service."

The state also added recurring money to the budget for a residency program in rural areas. They hope to bring doctors to those hospitals and improve the quality of care.

Kopec said his company is looking at all of the closed rural hospitals over the next decade.

He said they expect to announce the opening of two other hospitals in June.