Garrard Hospital suspends services

August 31, 2003|PHIL PENDLETON

LANCASTER - At 5 p.m. Friday, Garrard County Hospital effectively closed its doors.

"This is an awful day," said Garrard Hospital board chairman Leonard Smith moments after the board unanimously approved a resolution ordering the suspension of operations. "This is one of the worst things to happen to Garrard County in my 65 years."

Several board members shed tears as the vote took place.

The first paragraph of the resolution tells the story. "The Hospital shall suspend all services, including, but not limited to, emergency room, critical access, radiology, mammography and pharmacy."

Signs have been placed at the hospital's front doors, and in bright red letters, people are told that the emergency room is closed. Options as to where they can receive care are listed.


"As of 5 o'clock Friday we cannot provide services for anybody. We cannot bill anyone," Smith said during Friday's 2 p.m. special board meeting.

Smith said if people have a health emergency, they should visit health care facilities in Danville, Stanford, Nicholasville or other cities.

"Depending on what part of they county they live in," said Smith. "The (Garrard) County EMS has been notified. State police have been notified."

The resolution says a number of different agencies, including the Cabinet for Health Services, Office of Attorney General, Kentucky Board of Pharmacy, Kentucky Board of Emergency Services, and police agencies will be contacted by the Transition Committee to begin efforts to find work for the displaced employees. Immediately after the 25-minute board meeting Friday, that committee met in a closed door session to discuss "personnel."

"Whoever gets these employees will have wonderful employees," said board member Brenda Powers.

About 50 employees are losing their jobs.

A formal request to de-certify the Critical Access Hospital License will be delivered by fax and certified mail to the Cabinet for Health Services, the resolution says.

"That does not dissolve our license," Smith said. "It's important to keep the license because there will be future use of the license."

Smith said he is in contact with three different organizations that are interested "in some degree or another" in using the laboratory equipment. He said the organizations, which he declined to identify, are looking at plans to operate an urgent treatment care clinic to serve the people of Garrard County.

"That may be a quick and easy process and it may take longer," said Smith.

He said one group will be in Lancaster Thursday.

According to the resolution, locks to the pharmacy were changed before 5 p.m. Friday, and the keys were given to the Garrard County Sheriff for safe keeping until further notice from the Kentucky Board of Pharmacy.

"That key is a valuable commodity. In my opinion, no employee should have that burden (of keeping the key)," Smith said.

"This is the hardest thing I've ever had to do," said Powers. "I hoped this day would never come."

"We didn't want to get here, we had no other options," said long-term care facility board chairman Ed Montgomery.

Magistrate Joe Leavell had no comment. County Judge-Executive E.J. Hasty said it was a "sad day." He said he prays that some kind of medical service can be provided.

"We worked hard to avoid this," said Smith. "The hospital couldn't survive, we were losing $50,000 to $100,000 a month. We looked at finances and tried to find a way out."

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