CEO reveals plans for future of hospital

Some light was shed on the future of Barnwell County's hospital during the Blackville Town Council meeting July 15.
Mary Valliant, CEO of the newly named Southern Palmetto Hospital, spoke to council members and the public about plans for the hospital. The former county-owned facility was recently sold to Resurgence Management Company and is in the middle of a bankruptcy process.
The first point Valliant made was assuring everyone that the emergency room, which sees 1,000 patients a month, is not going to close. In fact, Valliant said, "We are not going to close any service" currently running at the hospital.
She added, "We're very fortunate to still have our doors open." There was a chance the county would close the hospital if it was not sold.
Valliant said they plan to put in six inpatient beds for people suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. She said it's a big problem in the county and the plan is to get the rooms ready as quickly as possible.
"This is a disease" and people can't help themselves, she said.
Also, plans call for eight inpatient beds for a psychiatric unit. Valliant said the ER sees 100 psychiatric patients a month, and the county has no place for them to get proper treatment.
She also said she wants to have an inpatient rehabilitation facility at the hospital, a service that patients have to go out of county to get.
Valliant said she hopes to see an urgent care facility in Barnwell County before she retires. She said Barnwell is the only county in the state without one, which means many people have to go to the ER for non-emergency services - especially on weekends. This causes headaches for the hospital staff and patients who see high costs on their medical bills because their insurance doesn't cover an emergency room visit for a non-emergency.
The empty DeVita dialysis building, just down from the hospital on Reynolds Road, will be used for physician offices and outpatient physical therapy, Valliant said.
For people who don't have transportation but may need to get to the hospital for a non-emergency, Valliant said she is trying to get a contract with Local Motion to give people rides to and from the hospital.
Valliant did not give a specific time frame for any of the plans, but said she wants to move things forward quickly.
In other hospital news:
The Barnwell County Hospital Board held a meeting Thursday night. Most of the meeting - over an hour - was held in closed session. After the closed session, the board voted unanimously to terminate the county's 401k plan it had for hospital employees. Since the hospital is no longer owned by the county, the plan is not needed.
Valliant said current employees will be able to rollover their old 401k into their new one with RMC.