Joyce Marie Taylor
The Hamilton County Board of County Commissioners have continued their discussion on ways to provide healthcare for area residents. One option is to take advantage of a federal program that assists rural counties through the Department of Health and Human Services. The Rural Health Clinic Services Act of 1977 was enacted to address an inadequate supply of physicians serving Medicare beneficiaries in rural areas and increase the use of nurse practitioners and physician assistants.
County Coordinator Danny Johnson stated a couple of clients who were interested in bringing healthcare services to the county have looked at the old Trinity Community Hospital building to determine whether or not it could be utilized for a healthcare clinic. Johnson said they basically said they weren’t interested in using the old building.
“They said it was an eyesore,” Johnson said.
Commissioner Josh Smith stated he was concerned about parking issues and liability risks if the existing structure were to be used for a clinic, as well as functionality of the current building.
Commissioner Lewis Vaughn felt the only thing to do is to demolish the building because it is unknown what kind of mold, bacteria or other harmful substances could possibly be contained inside.
Commissioner Harry “Buster” Oxendine brought up a tax deed issue, which is how he said the county acquired the property. He asked whether or not they had the authority to tear down the building.
Attorney John McCormick stated, “You’re cleaning up something that could be a liability issue, or a health, safety and welfare issue here. Children could go in there and play. In the law that’s called an attractive nuisance.”
A motion was made, seconded and approved to have the county road department move forward and begin demolition of the old hospital building, pending legal review of the county’s right to destroy the building.
“The existing clinic building near the hospital will not be torn down and would be utilized as the proposed rural clinic,” said County Clerk Greg Godwin.
Meanwhile, a Request for Proposal of the rural health clinic will be sent to the hospital board for review.
Although the old Trinity Hospital building has a long history and many in the community may object to the demolition, the county felt it was in the best interests of everyone concerned to move forward with destruction of the building. Numerous details still need to be discussed and decided upon between the county commission and the hospital board before the project can move forward, according to Godwin.