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Patrick County's shuttered hospital is expected to re-open by year's end

Hospital sign
Jeff Bossert
/
The sign outside the hospital, which closed in September 2017.

Patrick County in far Southwest Virginia expects to announce the re-opening of its shuttered hospital by the end of the year. One local official says he remains guardedly optimistic.

County Board Chair Clyde DeLoach admits he had given up on anyone reviving the county’s only hospital, which shut its doors in late 2017.

For the last few years, emergency calls have required waiting for an ambulance from outside the area, then a 40 minute trip to a hospital in Martinsville, or Mt. Airy, North Carolina.

In fact, DeLoach opted to drive himself there, accompanied by his wife, rather call an ambulance, when he had an irregular heartbeat.

He says walk-in clinics in his area can get overwhelmed.

“On a daily basis, the frustration has been, especially during COVID, was being seen by a doctor,” he said. They could have gone to the emergency room if they had a hospital. But the doctor was so backed up. My wife had COVID, and we went over sat before we could get to be seen in Urgent Care.”

In April, a buyer emerged for the closed hospital. Chicago-based Foresight Health, run by entrepreneur Sameer Suhail, bought the hospital site in Stuart for $2-point-1 million in cash.

He later visited with local officials, saying he planned to get the emergency room back up and going by year’s end.

Suhail wants to expand the site to a full-blown hospital, recently announcing plans to hire up to 300 medical professionals and others.

More recently, reports have surfaced Suhail is the subject of a number of legal probes in the Chicago area.

DeLoach says he feels better Patrick County isn’t on the hook for the money. He also said contractors have been inside the shuttered hospital to get it ready.

“They bought the building, and they’re working, so everything has been in good faith so far. And we’ll just have to see,” he said. “As long as I protect the public money, then I can take a cautious view of it.”

If the hospital does reopen as planned, DeLoach says he’s excited about the prospects for luring other business to the region.

A spokesman for Suhail, Liam Gray, didn’t return a request from Radio IQ seeking comment. But he recently told the online journal Cardinal News that Suhail denies any wrongdoing, and is waiting for investigations to play out.

Jeff Bossert comes to Radio IQ with over 20 years of reporting and hosting experience, primarily with NPR member stations, including WKNO in Memphis, and most recently, Illinois Public Media/WILL in Urbana, Illinois. A big advocate for professional development, Jeff served on the Illinois News Broadcasters Association Board of Directors.