UCMH Administrator Eric Carroll discusses the features of the new hospital during a meeting on Friday, Sept. 28, at the Clinchfield Senior Adult Center. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by RIchard Rourk)

y Richard Rourk

Ahead of the grand opening of the new Unicoi County Memorial Hospital later this month, the Clinchfield Senior Adult Center held a meeting for interested citizens with representatives of Ballad Health, the company which owns and operates the facility.

This meeting took place on Friday, Sept. 28, and was led by Unicoi County Memorial Hospital Administrator Eric Carroll.

Carroll wasted no time to explain to the crowd all the new services and features that will be available at the new hospital. Starting with the rooms, each one of the inpatient rooms will have a view of the mountains. The new hospital will have a helipad for Wings’ ambulance services. The hospital will have a 24-hour emergency room.

Also according to Carroll, cardiology services will be expanded at the new facilities. New to the hospital will be digital X-rays and ultrasound services. There will also be numerous updates to current services with new equipment.

“We currently have a cafeteria, but it is very difficult to find,” Carroll said of the current facility. “At the new hospital there will be indoor and outdoor dining space and is located right outside of the outpatient waiting space.”

There will also be a gift shop and a chapel at the new hospital.

There will not be a surgical center at the new hospital, which prompted a question from the audience at Friday’s event regarding what would happen to someone who needed surgery.

“There are three hospitals within a 23-mile radius of this hospital that have surgical capability, so that played a huge role in that decision,” Carroll said in response.

One of the citizens asked about a parking garage. Carroll stated there is no plan currently for a parking garage.

Also on Friday, April Jones, RN, director of nursing at UCMH, addressed the crowd and introduced Epic – the technology platform that will connect all Ballad Health facilities in the future.

“Unicoi County Memorial Hospital will be the first Mountain States Hospital to go live with Epic,” Jones said.

Current Wellmont hospitals are already on Epic. The plan is to have all Ballad Health hospitals live on Epic by April of 2020. Health records will be available between all Ballad Health hospitals once they are all on the Epic system. Patients will also be able to check their records through Epic.

“Patients can sign up and check their results, schedule, cancel and reschedule appointments or tests,” Jones said.

The Epic platform currently covers 200 million people, roughly two-thirds of patients nationwide.

Pharmacist Terry Roller of Roller Pharmacy asked if Epic would be compatible with CPESN USA.”

Jones replied, “yes and for those that do not know about CPESN USA it is a system that pharmacies use to communicate with each other and with hospitals.”

She confirmed Epic will be compatible with CPESN USA.

The official ribbon cutting for the new hospital will be held on Oct. 22. Public tours will take place on that day. The facility will be operational soon after that date.