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MSHA closes land purchase for new hospital

The location of the new home for Unicoi County Memorial Hospital becomes official this week.
In an interview with The Erwin Record on Monday, July 6, officials from Mountain States Health Alliance announced they will close on the 45 acres on Jackson Love Highway near Exit 40 right off I-26 on Wednesday, July 8, – a vital step in the construction of the county’s new hospital.
“I don’t see a reason why we couldn’t close on that day,” Hank Carr, CEO of Corridor Properties and realtor for MSHA, said.
The sale did officially close on July 8.
After maintaining an option on 65 acres, Carr added the additional 19-20 acres around the property will not be purchased moving forward with expected plans for the facility to fit within the 45 acres.
“We had it on contract,” said Bill Alton, MHSA vice president of Facilities and Construction Management. “We’re operating under a master site plan and used due diligence to see if the property met our needs.”
Alton also said different tests on infrastructure, water and sewage were performed and said the property is a great opportunity for the new facility.
Plans moving forward are for requests for proposals to be sent out for architects in late August or early September, then construction will begin on the property. Alton stated that MHSA will operate under an 18-month construction plan, finalizing designs and other details, and the expected opening date is slated for the spring of 2018.
“I feel like we could finish earlier,” Alton said, “but we want to be safe moving forward. I feel we’re on the right track with this endeavor.”
MSHA acquired UCMH in November 2013, making it the 14th hospital under the Mountain State’s umbrella. Building a new hospital was one of the commitments MSHA made to the county as part of the purchase agreement.
In January of this year, the UCMH visioning committee, comprised of different individuals from the community and reps from the MSHA, met to identify what the 20-bed facility will offer.