Officials with the Erlanger Health System on Wednesday sought approval from the Tennessee Health Services Development Agency to establish a free-standing Emergency Room, Level IV Trauma Center and Cath Lab at a Certificate of Need (CON) hearing in Nashville.
Following requests by both Erlanger and Tennova to build free-standing Emergency Rooms, agency board members denied both CON’s for expansion in Bradley County.
During the hearing, Erlanger President and CEO Kevin M.
Spiegel noted that Erlanger treats more than 25,000 patients annually from Bradley and Polk Counties. In his testimony, Erlanger’s CEO also pointed out that in 2011, Tennova Bradley County provided $11 million in charity care. In 2016, their amount of charity care significantly dropped to $2.3 million – while he said Erlanger’s charity care significantly increased from $78.7 million to $138 million during the same time period.
Mr. Spiegel said, “We are proud of the fact that we are a safety net provider for the uninsured and underinsured, and our plan is to provide services where community residents live. Our plan is to improve access to patient care by providing more services and more choices, and reduce the burden on the most vulnerable patients who currently have to travel long distances.”
Erlanger officials also said the application was in direct response "to the unsustainable outmigration of patients from Bradley County and Polk County." Bradley County EMS currently has four ambulances serving the community. Unfortunately most of those ambulances are on the road and out of Bradley County taking patients to other facilities and placing area residents at risk, Erlanger officials said.
Mr. Spiegel said, “Today, we seek to serve as the voice for those who often do not have a voice of their own. We feel residents in Bradley and Polk counties are better cared for in their own communities. They deserve a choice and better access to care closer to home.”
He also said, “We are disappointed for the citizens of Bradley and Polk Counties, and most of all for the uninsured and under-insured who are most vulnerable. There is no question these proposals would have significantly improved the health of those communities as well as economic development in Bradley County if both had been approved.”