The hospital in Unicoi County has admitted to being in severe financial distress. This makes me wonder why the two largest hospital groups in the area would want to take over what is essentially a failed business. The winner in this situation must assume a substantial debt load as well as construction of a new building. They must assume all the operating costs as well.
Health care is a business and just like any other business must show a profit. Make no mistake by thinking that health care for the citizens of Unicoi County is the No. 1 priority of either of the two groups.
This is just another battle between the areaís two biggest health care providers to absorb more territory and along with it more health care dollars. I would suspect that just as in many areas this day and time that many of the potential health care dollars in Unicoi will be in state and/or federal money. In other words, a pretty much guaranteed income.
I gather from what has transpired so far in regard to the proposals that have been submitted that Wellmont is not all that enthused about the takeover. I suspect their half-hearted proposal comes from the fact that they do not want Mountain States Health Alliance to get this little prize and maybe even consider this to be a losing proposition financially. On the other hand, MSHA would take over the countyís animal shelter and vet business if they could.
Regardless of the winner, the Unicoi hospital would be no more than a glorified urgent care facility from which the more serious medical cases would be funneled to either groupís flagship hospital. There are big bucks in them there helicopter flights.
The citizens of Unicoi County deserve top-quality medical services. I just hope they do not have to travel to Sullivan or Washington counties to receive them.