(Reporter Monte Lyons at Missourinet Kennett affiliate KBOA contributed to this story)
A Georgia-based company announced Thursday that it plans to renovate and re-open a hospital in southeast Missouri’s Kennett, a hospital that’s been closed since 2018.
Kennett has about 10,000 residents.
Kennett Mayor Chancellor Wayne held a news conference this morning in the Bootheel town, joined by other town and business leaders. The mayor notes Main Street HealthVentures is a Billionaires Fund Group affiliate, and that the company will work with the city and local banks to renovate the former Twin Rivers Regional Medical Center, which closed in 2018.
“The city of Kennett is in full favor of the endeavors that the Billionaires Funding Group has shown to us,” Mayor Wayne tells reporters.
Consultant Kerry Noble, a former chief executive officer at the Pemiscot Memorial Hospital in Hayti, tells Missourinet Kennett affiliate KBOA (AM 1540) that Main Street is requesting licensure for a 49-bed full-service facility.
“A key component will also be a cardiac outpatient program, in conjunction with the hospital, so we plan to bring all services back to this location,” Noble says.
KBOA reports work is expected to begin this summer, and will take about 12 to 18 months to finish.
Nine of the state’s ten poorest counties are in southeast Missouri, and the Bootheel is the state’s poorest region.
The state Hospital Association (MHA) says ten rural Missouri hospitals have closed since 2014, and five of those happened in the southeast Missouri district of U.S. Rep. Jason Smith, R-Salem.
During a February interview with Missourinet, Smith described those hospital closings as unacceptable, saying people die when hospitals close. Congressman Smith also notes that rural hospital closures are associated with an increase in an area’s mortality rate.
Bootheel residents are praising the announcement from Main Street HealthVentures. Kennett residents have had to drive to Cape Girardeau, Sikeston and Arkansas for emergency room care and for hospitalization. The area has a large elderly population, and some of them don’t have vehicles.
Mr. Noble is excited about the hospital’s return.
“This is our opportunity to bring this facility back under the direction of the local citizens of Kennett. It will no longer be controlled by outside interests,” says Noble.
While Mayor Wayne describes the announcement as a big step forward for health care in Kennett and southeast Missouri, he says more is needed.
“We’re going to need support from the citizens of Kennett, from our (state) Legislature, our senators (U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley), our representatives, to get everything done,” Wayne says.
Supporters say the development will impact about 70,000 residents across southeast Missouri and northeast Arkansas.
The Kennett Chamber of Commerce website says the town currently has a primary care clinic, and also the St. Bernard’s Urgent Care.
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