Hospital Closure Will Have 'Domino Effect' on Fulton Economy
Fulton City and County Officials say they will persevere despite a loss of revenue and jobs following the closing of Parkway Regional Hospital.
Community Health Systems announced today Parkway will discontinue acute inpatient and emergency room services by March 31, 2015.
Fulton is one of the poorest communities in Western Kentucky, and the county's decreasing population were amongst the reasons CHS cited for closure of the hospital.
The hospital pays nearly $256,000 in utility, payroll and property tax to the city, making up 18% of city revenue.
City Manager Cubb Stokes says the economic impact is yet to be seen but it will have an adverse, domino effect on the city’s finances.
"They've been a good citizen for over 20 years, but this is a corporate decision; a business decision," said Stokes. "But we’ll survive. We’ll take a bump and then we'll start to rebuild. Our main concern is to get good medical care for all our population and replace some of the jobs that we lose.”
The hospital employs 192 people. Officials say some medical workers may be able to relocate elsewhere in CHS’ corporate network, but staff such as janitors and cafeteria workers may be out of a job.
County Judge Executive David Gallagher says they’re already examining ways to mediate that loss now.
“In the county, mostly the unemployment rate will go up," said Gallagher. "Unless we fill these positions quickly, and that’s what we’re working on doing is transferring people to other jobs and just see what the loss will be. But there will be a negative impact on employment.”
The next closest hospital is 12 miles away in Martin or Union City, Tennessee. Mayfield's Jackson Purchase Medical Center is 22 miles away.
Gallagher says he’s currently in negotiations with the Fulton, South Fulton and Hickman city governments to extend a one-year contract with Tri-City Ambulance, a paid EMS service, to keep it active despite the closing.