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St. Mary's is not a facility that was built in the 1930's as Tennova keeps saying. (Along with saying it's an 83 year old facility.) Parts of it are that old, but six of the eleven buildings date from the 1970's, 80's and 90's. That's from the Certificate of Need application filed when Tennova predecessor Mercy Health sought to build the new hospital in Powell. That same application showed a renovation plan that showed the old buildings demolished, a new tower and a new general services building. That argument was used then to justify a new hospital. Now it's being abandoned along with the neighborhood around St Mary's. The old and decrepit claim is just spin used to justify their planned move.
The traffic study Tennova did was only for Middlebrook Pike, the minimum required by state law. No study was done of the surrounding streets, and it apparently won't be done prior to the final council vote on rezoning. It defies common sense to vote to rezone for a hospital to be built without a thorough traffic study. Tennova doesn't want to pay for it. They say they are waiting for the city to kick in some funds.
You can't separate the zoning vote from the hospital use. It's like saying that waving a white towel in the air during a battle is simply drying your laundry. It has an obvious significance. The sole reason Council voted on rezoning is because Tennova requested it to build their hospital.
Finally, Tennova doesn't even need the rezoning. The current Agriculture-1 permits a hospital and the Accessory Use section of the Municipal Code allows medical office buildings (the reason Tennova gives for the new zoning). They want the zoning so they can tell the state board that grants Certificates of Need that the city supports their plan because they rezoned as requested. Also, as a hedge to build medical offices or to simple increase the land value if they fail to get their Certificate of Need.
Council passed the first vote 5-3. They have a chance to redeem themselves and serve the city's best interests at the second vote Oct. 1.
"St. Mary's is outdated so a new hospital has to be constructed." A more accurate statement is that parts of St. Mary's are outdated and Tennova doesn't want to spend the money to renovate it. It can and should be renovated so the people in North Knoxville can get the level of healthcare they deserve.
"The hospital is loosing doctors." According to doctors I've talked to, Tennova required them to be on call at both St. Mary's and Tennova's North facility for no extra pay, thus driving them away. Plus they said the rates for office rental at St. Mary's were higher than at North. Tennova is inducing doctors to leave so they can say doctors are abandoning St. Mary's.
"Doctors control where hospitals are located." Everyone wants to work in a new building close to home. Doctor convenience is hardly a sound criteria for establishing distribution of health care in the city. Tennova's plans are based on what they think will bring the most profit. Their claim that doctors are the drivers of their decisions is a diversion from their true motives.
The real issue is that Tennova is abandoning patients in order to gain a profit. St. Mary's will cease to exist as a full service hospital - no emergency room, no acute care, no surgery, no labs, according to Tennova's last public presentation in North Knoxville.
If Tennova is successful, the city will have a lop sided distribution of hospitals that tilts West. That may benefit Tennova's shareholders, but it won't benefit the people of Knoxville.
City Council can stop this by refusing to rezone the Middlebrook Pike site. The state can stop it by denying Tennova its Certificates of Need - one to downsize St. Mary's and another one to build a new building on Middlebrook. The MPC can stop it by denying Tennova at the "use on review" hearing.
Tom got it right. The reason Tennova wants to build there - that it's the last big piece of undeveloped (and unspoiled) land in W. Knox - is the best reason to preserve it. Like he says, when it's gone, it's gone forever. No one tears down hospitals (or shopping malls, office complexes, etc) to convert them into green space. It's time to get over the assumption that "it's going to be developed anyway". It will be only if City Council and the Mayor allow it to be. It could be bought and preserved as a natural habitat park, with an equine center, which it used to be (the old barn is still there) or an environmental education center. There are lots of possibilities and lots of money out there. We need something green in the midst of the pavement that has taken over the West end. Give it a chance. Deny the rezoning Tennova wants.