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MSHA: New UCMH 'right on schedule'

A new hospital is in the future for Unicoi County, according to Mountain States Health Alliance (MSHA).
The health system, which acquired Unicoi County Memorial Hospital (UCMH) in 2013, announced last week that strategic planning for the proposed 20-bed facility is ongoing by the UCMH visioning committee.
According the health system, the new facility will be located near Exit 40, just off I-26 in the southern section of Unicoi County. MSHA is expected to close on the property for the new UCMH in July.
Construction is expected to begin in the fall of 2016. The facility is expected to open in spring 2018, according to MSHA.
“Everything is still right on schedule,” Tracy Byers, Unicoi County Memorial Hospital administrator said. “We’ll have a beautiful, full-service community hospital that will not only meet the needs of the people in the area but also enhance their care.”
The construction of the new building will allow UCMH to provide additional services in addition to the services already being offered. The new services will be determined by UCMH visioning committee, which is made up of members of the Unicoi County community and MSHA representatives.
MSHA also reported that the current UCMH averages having 12 beds filled, based on a study of the hospital’s daily census. The proposed 20-bed facility will meet current needs, according to MSHA, as well as be constructed so that expansion can take place later if needed.
“We’re building to meet the community’s needs, and we’re looking for growth, as well,” Byers said.
Looking ahead to the rest of this year, MSHA will be filing paperwork with the state to get permission to build the new UCMH. The health system will also select architectural, construction and design firms. The visioning committee will continue to meet going forward.
“We’re pleased with how things are progressing with the hospital and we’ll continue to keep everyone updated as we move forward toward construction,” Byers added.
MSHA, is looking forward to constructing a new hospital in the county, according to the health system.
“This is especially exciting because it’s an opportunity for Mountain States to build a replacement hospital in a rural community, when a lot of smaller communities are losing their hospital,” Dwayne Taylor, CEO for the Southeast Market for Mountain States, and member of the visioning committee said. “We’re going to do this right and build a hospital the community will be proud of and one that physicians will want to practice in.”
According to MSHA, the members of the visioning committee include: Matt Rice of Erwin Utilities, chairman; Randy Trivette, UCMH board member; Dr. Jason Colinger, Unicoi Medical Associates; Danielle Rogers, Nuclear Fuel Systems; Rick Storey, Citizen’s Bank, Mountain States board member; Bill Alton, Mountain States VP for facilities and construction management; Allison Rogers, Mountain States VP for strategic planning; Byers, and Taylor.
The late Dwight Bennett served on the visioning committee prior to his death.
“We definitely miss Dwight personally and we’ll miss his contributions to the committee,” Byers said. “That is a big loss to this community.”