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Bamberg County Council gave unanimous second reading approval to three items at its August 22, meeting Monday night that will reportedly lead to the establishment of a Regional Healthcare System (RHS) for the citizens of Bamberg County. Council members had previously given first reading approval (in title only) to those same three items at a special meeting on Thursday, August 18.

At Bamberg County Council’s August 22, meeting Monday night Council members approved on second reading an ordinance to create a Multi-County Healthcare Park between Bamberg County and Barnwell County; Also approved on second reading was an ordinance providing for the sale of assets owned by Bamberg County comprising a portion of the Bamberg County Hospital and finally a proposed intergovernmental agreement between Bamberg and Barnwell Counties involving items one and two.

“We are entering into an arrangement with Bamberg County and Barnwell County and a Dobbs backed Equity Affiliate that will result in the construction of a Regional Healthcare System that will consist of a delivery system in Bamberg County and a delivery system in Barnwell County and the construction of a new 50-60 bed state of the art hospital that will be centrally located,” Council member Chris Wilson said, adding, “that’s what we’re in the process of moving forward on,” Wilson said at Monday night’s meeting.

In the Thursday, August 18, special meeting attended by a large number of BCMH employees Wilson noted that: “Bamberg County Council has chosen a path forward that will insure a stable level of care for its citizens and a financial stable healthcare delivery system for the citizens of Bamberg County, not for the short-term but the long term.”

Also at Thursday night’s special called meeting in addressing a large number of BCMH employees in attendance, BCMH Board Chair Dr. Danette McAlhaney said the hospital board and administration of the hospital had received information on the direction the hospital would be going in and would be in the process of taking that information and moving forward, but she could give any specific information at that time.

“We know ya’ll want to know everything that’s going to happen with the hospital,” McAlhaney said to the employees. We know the route they’re planning to take. We’re going to take that information and go forward. The board will decide the best route forward for the hospital.”

Several hospital staff members had questions and comments about the future of the hospital like: How can we get the word out to the public that the hospital is still open? And how could the hospital continue to operate with the staffing level as low as it is? One staff member commented that the employees are “very tired of this roller coaster ride.” And “we’re just suppose to be in limbo-week to week as to what ya’ll are going to do.”

“There will be a number of questions that we just won’t be able to answer at this time,” Council member Wilson said at Thursday night’s meeting and again at Monday night’s meeting due to the sensitive nature of the discussions at this point.

Also during the meeting:

• County finance director Thomas M. Thomas reported total collections as of July of $720,519 and expenditures of $749,542. The County’s budget approved earlier for the year was noted at $7,552,861.

• Council member Chris Wilson a member of the Lower Savannah Council of Governments Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) said that funds are available for the improvement of intersections in the county that are considered dangerous because of traffic patterns or other reasons. Those intersections could be added to the inventory list. Anyone wanting to make such a request should contact County Administrator Rose Dobson- Elliott at 245-5191, request need to made by the end of September or early October.

 
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