Copper Basin hospital closes down

   Copperhill, Tenn. – After more than 60 years of providing medical care to the people of east Polk County, Copper Basin Medical Center ceased hospital operations Sunday, according to a release from CEO Dan Johnson.
   No further hospital services – such as inpatient, outpatient, diagnostic laboratory or emergency care – will be provided at Copper Basin. The release says patients’ accounts and medical records office will remain open to receive payments and fulfill medical record information requests.
   Patients requesting access to their medical records can call Copper Basin at 423-496-5511 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
   From Copper Basin, the closest hospital and emergency care facility is Fannin Regional Hospital in Blue Ridge, Ga., which is 10 miles and about 16 minutes away. Other nearby hospitals include Murphy Medical Center in Peachtree, N.C.; Union General Hospital in Blairsville, Ga., and Tennova Healthcare in Cleveland.
   Piedmont Mountainside also provides an emergency care facility in Ellijay, Ga., where North Georgia Medical Center closed last year.
   The release cites “declining patient visits, mounting debt and reimbursement reductions” as reasons for the hospital’s closure and added that “like many other rural hospitals, (Copper Basin) had no choice but to cease operations.”
   The release adds, “The health-care industry has advanced and changed dramatically over the past 30 years with how services are accessed and delivered.”
   In a letter to the editor submitted to The News Observer, Copper Basin District Board member Will Bishop expressed sadness for the closing, but added that “this did not have to happen.”
   “Instead of setting aside our differences and coming together for the common good of the facility, staff and patients, all I saw was petty arguments, back-room deals, illegal votes, lies on top of perjury and finally the destruction of a hospital that had been for years a beacon of hope in a dark place,” Bishop said, addressing his fellow board members.