Fairfield County, SC (WLTX) - For years Fairfield County subsidized Fairfield Memorial Hospital, but county leaders tell News 19 that it's no longer a viable solution.
"We've been paying them a little over $1 million per year," County Administrator Jason Taylor said. "Looking around and seeing what has happened to other hospitals, we didn't want to lose healthcare."
It's a trend that's happening across our state. Since 2010, three rural hospitals have been forced to close their doors. To prevent it from happening here, the county and hospital are partnering with Providence Health to build and operate a multi-million dollar 24 hour emergency room.
"We're excited to be bringing health services to that rural community," Kelly Perritt, Director of Communications for Providence Health said. "There will also be imaging services, radiology, CT scans, (and) ultra sound."
Perritt said the group is in the design phase and has received a $3.8 million grant from the South Carolina Hospital Transformation Program. And for the next 10 years the money the county used to subsidize Fairfield Memorial Hospital will go to Providence Health.
"Providence is a great partner," Suzie Doscher said.
Doscher is the CEO of Fairfield Memorial and said the hospital's emergency services will remain open throughout the transition and it will still maintain other services like out-patient occupational therapy, physical therapy and imaging services once everything is finalized.
Mike Tanner, Director of Fairfield County Emergency Services, said it will help them too, by hopefully cutting down response times.
Records show for the last three years more patients have requested to be sent to Richland County than stay in Fairfield County.
"The trend will be more people wanting to go to that facility and it will cut down on the amount of transports we have outside the county," Tanner said.
The groups said that the new emergency room should be finished by summer 2018. The location has yet to be finalized. Both groups said they are committed to trying to keep staff on board throughout the transition.