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County Council gives final approval on Regional Health System Print E-mail

Bamberg County Council members gave third reading approval to three items at their September 13 meeting that they hope will lead to the creation of a Regional Healthcare System with Barnwell County. After approving on third reading a proposed ordinance for a zoning request change from the Bamberg County Planning Commission on property on Highway 78 west in Denmark, Council members went into a closed meeting.

Council members convened back into open session and gave unanimous approval to a proposed ordinance approving the execution and delivery of certain agreements providing for sale of assets owned by Bamberg County, South Carolina, and comprising a portion of the Bamberg County Hospital and other matters related thereto. Council also approved a proposed ordinance to create a multi-county healthcare park between Bamberg County and Barnwell County.

In the public comments portion of the meeting Bamberg County resident Fairey Padgett wanted to know: “When are you going to talk about the hospital?” Council member Chris Wilson informed Padgett that Council had just passed first, second and third readings to enter an agreement with a Dobb’s Equity Partners affiliate and Barnwell County to build a privately funded and privately owned healthcare system which will consist of multi-specialty clinics in Bamberg and Barnwell County and the construction of a 50-bed replacement hospital to be located centrally to serve both counties.

Padgett then wanted to know who owns the land where the hospital is to be built and who is selling the land? Council member Wilson told Padgett that there were some things that can’t be discussed and will not be discussed concerning the agreement at this point.

“There are some things about this transaction that will not be discussed until the contract is signed and completed and everything is finalized,” Wilson said, adding “that’s just the way it is, not trying to be difficult or rude or hide anything from the citizens. Who owns the land is not a requirement or detail that will be discussed.”

“If you are not trying to hide nothing, why not tell everybody,?” Padgett asked. “There are some business arrangements that are not meant to be discussed in public,” Wilson replied, noting if you are dealing with hospitals and companies for example.

Addressing council members during the public comments portion of the meeting was Denmark resident Johnny Ruth Rosa. Rosa stated that she was for the Bamberg and Barnwell County hospitals “staying open.” She noted that at this time the Bamberg County Hospital is not a “default hospital.” And, if the hospital was having problems filling 35 beds “I’d like to see you fill a 50 bed hospital.” “We’re not going to give up, this is not over, you can pass third reading, you can approve it, but it’s not over,” Rosa said.

In other business:

• In the financial report it was noted the county is in the second month of the budget year which is a “slow time” for revenues. The county continues to manage a “very tight” budget. Tax notices will start to go out the last of September or first of October and revenues should start to “pick up.” A property tax sale is scheduled for November 7.

• Council members approved sending a proposed resolution to support the initiation of a referendum toward the consolidation of Bamberg School District One and Bamberg School District Two to the County Planning Committee before being brought back to County Council.

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