The future of the Yadkin Valley Community Hospital, formerly known as Hoots Memorial Hospital, was discussed at Monday’s meeting of the Yadkin County Board of Commissioners. Karen Napper, a former hospital employee, spoke in public comments to ask the board if there was any new information regarding reopening the hospital.
Per the rules of the public comments portion of the meeting, the commissioners do not typically respond directly to questions or engage in dialogue, however, Chairman Kevin Austin did speak briefly on the topic.
“There are things in the works. We don’t have anything to announce at this time, but we are getting closer and closer,” Austin said. “We set a goal for next fall, we hope to beat that. A lot of it’s out of our hands as far as timing. Hopefully this will give everybody an indication that things are moving in a positive direction.”
Napper said she moved to the area from Ohio to work at the hospital and would like to stay in the Yadkin area.
“There’s a lot of us that want to come back, if the doors open we’re back,” she said.
The county has been awarded a grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation to do some renovation and improvements at the hospital property. The grant agreement, budget amendment and project ordinance were all approved at Monday’s meeting.
The grant is for $448,800, of which the county will match $112,200. The funds will be used to redo the paving at the front entrance and make the front of the building and parking lot more accessible. Two HVAC units will be replaced as well as new tile work in the hallways on either side of the lobby entrance and radiology and lab areas.
Commissioner Frank Zachary said he was grateful for the grant and the hard work that county leaders and staff were putting into finding options for the hospital.
“We’ve not given up on it,” he said.
The hospital closed in May of 2015 and the county was engaged in a legal battle with former operators HMC/CAH. Though several medical providers have reopened offices at the facility, the main hospital has remained closed.
Austin acknowledged that it had been a lengthy process to find a new operator to provide hospital services in the building, but said he felt it was important to take this time to ensure finding the best possible operator to run the hospital.
“Rural hospitals are dying, that’s just the way it is, so we’ve got to look at what the future is going to be,” Austin said. “We don’t just want to attract another operator here who’s going to shut down in three years. It’s not good for anybody.”
Though slow and painstaking, Austin said he was pleased with the progress being made in finding a new partner to operate the hospital for Yadkin County.
“I’m real excited about the future I just wish it could be tomorrow,” he said. “I think in the end we’ll have a great result.”
In a press release from the county following Monday’s meeting, Austin added, “The board is firmly committed to attracting quality health care to Yadkin County. We are very grateful to the Golden LEAF Foundation for their generous gift that will help us make a quality health care facility become a reality. The county will begin the bid process to start these renovations immediately.”
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter or Instagram @RippleReporterK.