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Town, county consider opposing UCMH sale

The Unicoi County Commission and the town of Unicoi Board of Mayor and Aldermen have considered resolutions in opposition of the conveyance procedures of Unicoi County Memorial Hospital to Mountain States Health Alliance.
The UCMH acquisition process was initiated last year when the UCMH Board of Control held a series of meetings to determine and vote on which health system would take over the financially distressed public hospital.
The UCMH Board of Control voted 5-2 on Nov. 28 to accept the Mountain States Health Alliance’s second proposal submitted alongside of Wellmont Health System’s second proposal on Oct. 10.
The UCMH sale was initiated in July with a letter of intent sent to both health systems.
A second set of proposals were allowed to be submitted after the UCMH Board of Control’s attempted vote on Oct. 4 was thwarted by concerned citizens and Wellmont representatives in attendance.
During a Unicoi County Commission meeting on Monday, the board failed to pass a resolution to express opposition for the proposed sale of UCMH to MSHA. Dissenting voters were Commissioners Bill Hensley, Kenneth Garland, Loren Thomas and Gene Wilson. Commissioners James Howell, Dwight Bennett, Sue Jean Wilson and Doug Bowman voted for the resolution, while Commission Chairperson James “Mickey” Hatcher abstained from a vote. Before the vote, Hatcher requested County Attorney Doug Shults give his opinion regarding whether the hospital board should bring the hospital sale back to the commission for approval.
Shults said it was his opinion, according to his understanding of the hospital's bylaws, that the issue would need to be brought to the county commission for a vote. Shults said that it is his opinion that to proceed without coming to the commission for a vote would “circumvent” the original charter.

For the remainder of this article please see the Jan 29, 2013 edition of The Erwin Record