LAKE CITY, S.C. -- Lake City and Kingstree will both lose their hospitals under a plan announced Friday by the Medical University of South Carolina which will build a new facility somewhere between the two communities.
The Charleston-based medical school has signed a letter of intent with Lake City Community Hospital and Williamsburg Regional Hospital that calls for MUSC to build, own and operate a $50 million replacement hospital that will be a 25-bed critical access facility that will deliver on-site care as well as virtual care through the MUSC Teleheatlth Network.
According to hostpial-data.com, Lake City Community Hospital is currently certified for 48 beds while Williamsburg Regional Hospital is certified for 25 beds. The two facilities are located 16 miles and 23 minutes apart, according to Google Maps.
The new facility will offer emergency room services, said Heather Woolwine, MUSC spokesperson.
It will also offer inpatient and outpatient surgery, radiology, lab, respiratory, physical therapy and pharmacy services, Woolwine said.
Whether it will offer labor and delivery services has yet to be decided, she said.
According to Wikipedia, "to receive federal funding, Critical Access Hospitals must adhere to several guidelines. They may have no more than 25 beds and must have an average duration of hospital stay under 96 hours. They must also be more than 35 miles from another hospital, with exceptions allowed for areas with poor roads or difficult terrain. CAHs have more flexibility than other hospitals in staffing requirements. They must offer 24/7 emergency care and have a physician on-call available to be on-site within 60 minutes. They are required to have a Registered Nurse on site at all times when acutely ill patients are in the hospital. At other times, an LPN may fill in.
"The new MUSC Health facility will serve the health care needs of the Lower Florence County Hospital District, other areas of Florence, residents of Williamsburg County, as well as neighbors from adjacent counties," according to the release. "When the new MUSC facility opens, both Lake City Community Hospital and Williamsburg Regional Hospital will transfer all operations for inpatient and outpatient services to the new MUSC hospital."
Williamsburg Regional Hospital was damaged beyond repair by the storms of 2015 and has operated out of temporary facilities since April 2016.
"Our hospital has always maintained a focus on delivering the best care available to our patients and families," said Scotty Campbell, chairman of the Lake City Community Hospital board, said through the MUSC release. "To extend that focus we must recognize the added value that MUSC Health brings to the equation. Collaborating on a new hospital to serve our friends and neighbors in the most logical, productive and fiscally responsible solution possible."
"Critical access hospitals serve small, rural populations and receive cost-based adjusted reimbursements for Medicare services," according to a release issued by MUSC. "These cost adjustments help to stabilize rural hospital, making them less vulnerable to financial issues. The cost-based reimbursements also improve access to much-needed health care, ensuring that essential services are available and sustainable in rural communities."
A location for the new hospital has not yet been set and funding options are being reviewed, according to the release. Construction on the new facility is forecast to take from 24-36 months and the goal is to have the new facility open by 2022 and to keep the current facilities operating until that time.
"MUSC Health is proceeding with the due diligence necessary to determine the location for the replacement facility and we will provide more information as decisions are made and the information becomes available," Woolwine said.
The fate of the currently hospital buildings has not yet been decided, according to the release.