Lee County Hospital Authority to cut ties with Americore

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LEE COUNTY, VA (WJHL) - Leaders in Lee County, Virginia announced Thursday they plan to cut ties with a Florida based company they chose to re-open a hospital.

In 2013, Wellmont Health System closed Lee County Regional Medical Center due to lack of patients and federal reimbursements.

In 2017, the Lee County Hospital Authority sold the facility to a start-up company know as Americore. But more than a year later there's still no hospital in Lee County.

Members of the Lee County Hospital Authority announced it has started the process of parting ways with Americore.

It comes after Americore failed to meet several deadlines to reopen the hospital. The most recent was the deadline to re-open the hospital in December.

In December, photos were sent to WJHL of medical equipment being removed from the facility. At the time, a spokesperson with the hospital said it was due to Americore's financial issues.

During Thursday's meeting, members of the authority took the first step to end ties with Americore.

"After a week of no activity and no response from Americore, the chairman delivered letters of default to Americore," Commissioner Howard Elliot said.

He explained the authority's effort to inform Americore of their failure to meet the authority's requirements.

Bill Wireman, a long-time resident of Lee County, said the reopening of this hospital is crucial for their community.

"We deserve a hospital. We shouldn't have people dying to drive 30 minutes one way just to get medical care," Wireman said. "So I support our hospital authority, I know they are doing everything in their power to get us a hospital, not just an urgent care or an emergency room, they are doing everything in their power to get us a hospital."

There were no Americore representatives at Thursday's meeting at the Pennington Gap Community Center.

Americore's CEO Grant White told News Channel 11 he was unaware of the decision.

The meeting was recessed until Monday when they hope to complete negotiations with Americore.

The state of Virginia has extended the authority's certificate of public need (COPN) to re-open a hospital in Lee County for another four years.

At this time, it's uncertain what company will re-open the hospital in Lee County.

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