HUNTSVILLE — The State of Tennessee’s Health Services & Development Agency has agreed to a plea from Scott County Mayor Jeff Tibbals and hospital administrator Tony Taylor to hold an emergency hearing for the purpose of expediting the re-opening of the hospital in Oneida, state Sen. Ken Yager said Friday.

Yager, R-Harriman, said the hearing will be held Tuesday afternoon in Nashville.

Mayor Tibbals and Taylor had jointly sought the hearing on Oct. 24 after it became apparent that the state would not grant Pioneer Health a certificate of need due to its inability to immediately offer OB services at the hospital.

Tibbals informed Scott County Commission at its meeting earlier in the week that all hospital employees were being notified of an indefinite layoff pending resolution of the matter which, absent an emergency hearing, could have taken until after the first of January. The next scheduled certificate of hearing need was not until Dec. 18.

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[s2If current_user_can(access_s2member_level1)]The latest snag in Pioneer’s efforts to reopen the hospital — which will be named Pioneer Community Hospital of Scott — was a state requirement that a general hospital provide OB services. The state has said that no hospital services can be provided in Scott County unless the hospital provides OB services of acquires a certificate of need to discontinue the service.

Pioneer filed a certificate of need application to discontinue OB services, but that application is not scheduled to be reviewed until Dec. 18.

“The discontinuance of OB services at any hospital is a serious matter due to Tennessee’s infant morbidity and mortality rates,” Health Services & Development Agency executive director Melanie Hill said in an email to Yager and state Rep. Kelly Keisling, who represent Scott County in the Tennessee General Assembly.

However, Hill added, it had been determined that an emergency hearing should be held because an emergency certificate of need, if granted, would allow the hospital to begin operating.

According to Hill, Tibbals and Taylor contacted several state Department of Health representatives regarding the hospital license and “expressed great concern about the lack of access to acute and emergency care for Scott County citizens.”

While the emergency certificate of need that can be issued at an emergency hearing is only valid for 120 days, it would allow Pioneer Health adequate time to address the OB status.

Previously, Pioneer officials have speculated that it could take a year or longer to begin offering OB services at the hospital.

With the certificate of need application to discontinue OB services on file with the state and scheduled to be heard in December, the hospital would be easily within the 120-day window. If the state were to reject the certificate of need application in December, Pioneer would still have approximately six weeks in which to appeal the denial or provide a time table to address how and when OB services will be provided before the emergency certificate of need expires.[/s2If]