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County Council holds first reading on Health Master Print E-mail

A special meeting of the Bamberg County Council was held on Monday, May 23 to consider one agenda item; to move forward on a proposed ordinance authorizing Bamberg County to execute and deliver a Master Park agreement governing the Tri- County Regional Healthcare Park to include Allendale, Bamberg and Barnwell Counties. After waiting until 6:13 for one more councilmember to emerge to begin the 6:00 p.m. meeting, councilman Evert Comer joined council members Alzena Robinson, Larry Haynes and Isaiah Odom to form a quorum. Absent were Chairman Clint Carter and council members Chris Wilson and Claire Guess.

After the pledge of allegiance and the invocation, promising not to be very long, Robinson, who presided over the meeting announced that council would being going in executive session to discuss the agenda related items. Upon returning about 40 minutes later, council held the first reading and passed the single agenda item.

Richard Ness, who serves as the county’s attorney explained that the first reading was a “title only” reading, meaning the motion would cover the item as it was written for consideration on the agenda.

Ness went on to explain that a site has not been determined for the Tri-County health care initiative. He said the new management firm would make that decision. Health Care Management Partners, LLC was hired as the hospital’s new manager following a special April 19 meeting between council and the Bamberg County Hospital Board. The contract also states that HMP would be coordinating the restructure of the hospital’s debt under the stipulation that it would file for bankruptcy under Chapter 9 of the U.S. Code of Laws.

Ness said no matter where the hospital is located; all three counties would share the revenue from the project equally. Ness reiterated that in addition to the tri-county facility, each county would have some type of health care facility. Bamberg County EMS director Brenda Bessinger, inquired about a rumor that the hospital in Bamberg would be the only hospital to close and it was due to close within 60 days of determining a site for the tri-county hospital. Ness said that was not true. “That’s another rumor. Our hospital will not close until we have an urgent care facility or some type of replacement. Bessinger went on to say that she was amazed the EMS has not been involved in “this process.” Robinson assured Bessinger that they have not been overlooked and would be involved at the appropriate time.

A public hearing will be held during the third reading on the matter. That meeting is currently scheduled for June 20th. The second reading will be held on June 6 during the regular scheduled meeting of County Council.

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