Lawmakers outline work after hospital closes

State and federal representatives reacted to the closing of Pioneer Community Hospital of Patrick and discussed their efforts to help.

U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith, a Republican, said “The closure of Pioneer Community Hospital is a great loss for Patrick County, both in providing healthcare and in providing jobs for our citizens. I am ready to work with officials at all levels to facilitate efforts to reopen the hospital. My office has consulted local and state leaders on this issue, and there are ongoing negotiations between Patrick County officials and private entities to purchase and run the hospital.”

“The news of Pioneer Community Hospital of Patrick was a painful reminder of why we need to work together to stabilize the health care market and ensure access to affordable health care services for rural patients and communities,” U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine said, and added he and U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, both democrats, continue their efforts to proposals they deem will have a devastating impact on rural hospitals.

“I have had the opportunity to visit rural hospital across the Virginia and seen how important they are in providing care to rural communities,” Warner said.

Rural providers report, and unbiased data demonstrate, that rural patients are older, sicker, and poorer, according to Warner, who has introduced a Medicare Wage Index bill to establish a fairer reimbursement system for these hospitals.

State Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Glade Hill, said he and his staff have been in contact with Patrick officials since “Day 1. We called and alerted the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association” of the closure and worked to extend the time limit for the hospital relinquish its license. Efforts are ongoing to ensure cardiac and critical care credentials remain intact, as well as the Certificate of Public Need and associations with Medicare and Medicaid, so all can pass to a buyer.

“It is important to have those licenses and credentials attached to the building, so that it will be more attractive to a new owner. It is critical. If we lose those credentials, finding a buyer will be a lot more difficult.”

Del. Charles Poindexter, R-Glade Hill, said he was contacted about the closing by both residents and local officials.

“Pioneer closing is a terrible blow to Patrick County, although expected by all since their Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in 2016. It is a heavy blow on citizens who need hospital services, EMS and citizens for longer transports and costs, and those formerly employed by Pioneer.”

He added “I hope another hospital system will step up to the plate to take over Pioneer (and reopen it) as an acute hospital, or at least for acute urgent care. I have contacted other regional hospital systems in this regard, but frankly, so far, I have found none interested.

Poindexter said “I have no doubt the reason Pioneer closed is it’s a very small hospital with the capital and operational costs of a much larger facility.” He said those also are reasons “for the disinterest of the other regional systems.

Poindexter said he will continue his efforts to find a solution, just as “I know the Board of Supervisors, EMS and others will. In the meantime, please support the local EMS folks in every way as they struggle hard to perform a larger task for the community.”

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