Loudon County Commission agreed Monday to transfer the Fort Loudoun Medical Center property in Lenoir City to Covenant Health.
Commissioners Van Shaver and Adam Waller motioned and seconded, respectively, a resolution to expand and improve FLMC, which passed 10-0.
Covenant plans to construct a new 25-bed wing with private rooms and renovate some existing hospital space at a cost of $12 million-$15 million.
Covenant Health President and CEO Jim VanderSteeg, FLMC President and CEO Jeffrey Feike and legal counsel for both parties were present Monday.
Bob Bowman, county attorney, said issues raised at a March 22 workshop were all settled.
“Those issues are the addition of a provision that $15,000 is spent annually by Covenant for scholarships for the three high schools in Loudon County,” Bowman said. “The revised agreement incorporates the indigent care provision from the lease into the agreement that essentially states that Covenant will provide indigent care based on its current policies and procedures — same language that’s in the lease. ... Indigent care is included.
“We’ve also incorporated the agreement for the provision of medical services to inmates in the county jail,” he added. “Covenant has agreed to decease a percentage that it charges from 33% to 32%. ... It also affirms Covenant’s responsibility to bill any available health insurance carrier before seeking payment from the county. That was not in the original jail agreement but I think Mr. Feike explained that’s what they do and Covenant agreed that let’s just put that in writing so that it’s in black and white.”
Covenant also agreed to pay the county’s legal costs for the property transfer process.
The county held a lease from Covenant on the property through Dec. 31, 2034. That agreement was signed Nov. 12, 2004.
“I think it’s a huge win and I’m hoping that it gives them the freedom to continue to add on and build — double the room capacity — so that people can have individual rooms instead of sharing rooms at the hospital,” Matthew Tinker, county commissioner, said.
“Knowing what’s going to come from it by handing it back over to Fort Loudoun Medical — and Covenant’s a top-notch operation, so I’m excited to see what comes of it,” Waller added.
David Meers, county commissioner, said Covenant can make a big difference.
“The biggest thing is that I believe the figures were that the state has lost $1.5 billion due to COVID and we’re seeing a lot of the smaller hospitals being closed up across the state and by having an injection of a larger company such as Covenant can help the health care services through all the county,” Meers said.
Meers was an advocate for Covenant offering scholarships.
“I had asked originally for seven and we got three (scholarships),” he said. “I was hoping, but they’re going to work with us on that and I’m hoping that we can increase that from three up in the future. Mr. Feike and I have talked about that for quite some time and I think it’s going to be great. It’ll give them some individuals to go into nursing or it be health-related field and they’ll actually have to work for Covenant. ... Any graduating senior would be eligible from the three high schools. There would, I think, be an amount of $5,000 per year to go into nursing or into health-related fields and then once upon graduation or completion of their vocation then they would be required to work with Covenant for a number of years.”
In other news, Loudon County Commission:
• Updated the county’s floodplain policy.
• Approved a Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration plan.
• Passed application and acceptance for four no-match funds, including a $5,000 High Visibility Grant, $30,000 Impaired Driving Grant and $30,000 Police Traffic Grant from Tennessee Highway Safety Office and a $49,100 Litter Grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
• Authorized issuance of rural school refunding bonds in an aggregate principal amount of $7.55 million.
• Passed a statutory bond for the county director of accounts and budgets.
• Approved amendments for County General Fund 101, Public Libraries Fund 115, Highway Department Fund 131 and General Capital Projects Fund 171. A separate amendment vote was for School Federal Projects Fund 142 for funding of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief 2.0 money.