Mar 11 2008
04:37 pm
By: rocketsquirrel  shortURL

Looks like "the Baptist," as our south Knox kin affectionately call it, is on life support.

"Newly formed Mercy Health Partners will close inpatient services at its Downtown Knoxville Baptist Hospital location within 12 months, a source familiar with the situation has confirmed to 10News."

Now this part is interesting: "Members of Mercy administration tell Ten News the board has committed to a long-range plan of placing a new hospital in the downtown Knoxville area. The memo also affirms that intent."

Betcha a dollar to a donut they're looking at the Atlantic Mills/Palm Beach property off of Baxter Avenue.

Just a hunch.

Justin's picture

Does the Downtown Baptist

Does the Downtown Baptist location have any zoning restrictions as to what can take its place? I would think that developers are salivating at the thought of building million dollar condos.

Rachel's picture

Zoning Restrictions

The Baptist location is in the south waterfront redevelopment area and falls under the south waterfront form-based code. It's in the district (I think it's SW-5 but I'd have to look it up) which allows the most intensive development.

I've heard that Mercy Partners is considering the Baptist location for the new hospital. I guess we'll see.

mjw's picture

Awful close to St. Mary's

The Atlantic Mills site is only a couple of miles, if that, from St. Mary's, and not much nearer downtown than they are (albeit closer to the interstate).

j4's picture


Their plan (according to wuot) is to build a new downtown facility and close both St. Mary's and Baptist.

bizgrrl's picture

Very sad, indeed. "every

Very sad, indeed.

"every associate in a meaningful position."

"fair and just severance package in accordance with (its) separation policies" for those who are not placed in a job.

I predicted this when the merger was announced, but I am still surprised. How long has the hospital been there? 60 years? More? I wonder what's wrong with the existing faciity that makes them want a new/different facility downtown.

Ah! Are they getting a good deal on some old City/County land? Some TIFs?

Mr. McBeavy's picture

As it currently sits,

As it currently sits, Baptist hospital is landlocked on all sides. The river to the north, Henley St./Chapman Hwy. to the west, Gay St. and the associated redevelopment area to the east and Kerbela Temple/Mimosa Ave. to the south. Also, to expand to the south would require an inordinate amount of rock excavation as Kerbela sits on a ridge of practically solid rock.

St. Mary's in north Knoxville is not a whole lot better.

Pam Strickland's picture

So maybe that Baxter Ave

So maybe that Baxter Ave site isn't so crazy an idea.

As for St. Mary's expanding recently. That campus is a mess with ups and downs and arounds when you go inside. I can see them wanting to start over somewhere.

Pam Strickland

"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." ~Kurt Vonnegut

Factchecker's picture

Yes, but wasn't St. Mary's

Yes, but wasn't St. Mary's fairly recently expanded into a large, modern facility? The news of it closing is what surprised me. Though maybe I don't understand the "inpatient" part. To me it means stay-over rooms, which is pretty much what a hospital is.

Pam Strickland's picture

This days more and more

This days more and more so-called minor surgeries are done on an outpatient basis. You get blood work and other prep work done a day or two in advance, and then show up at the hospital early that morning (or sometimes later in the day) for the surgery and then stay for some period of time before heading home later that day.

Also, there would be various tests that would be done at the hospital on an outpatient basis. It can add up to a lot in these days when insurance companies don't like the cost of inpatient care.

Pam Strickland

"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." ~Kurt Vonnegut

Toad In The Hole's picture

Is There a Market for a Downtown Hospital?

If there truly is, why close a facility where there is a market?

Actually, there is no market for a downtown hospital, the paying patients and the physicians are all located out west or up north, with a few smatterings down south, but there is no rational reason to go downtown for any degree of medical care whatsoever.

In my opinion, St. Mary's North will continue to be expanded and various services at the Broadway location will be trimmed and what can be profitably pushed north, will be pushed north.

How about Jerry Askew talking about how great a day yesterday was? Wonder what types of happy pills they dispense out at St. Mary's now?

rocketsquirrel's picture

Actually, there is no market

Actually, there is no market for a downtown hospital, the paying patients and the physicians are all located out west or up north

wow. that's a pretty ridiculous statement. i live one block off of Broadway, near Graystone, and there are many paying patients and even some doctors that live in my neighborhood. When I lived in south Knox, a neonatal doctor lived right across the street. A podiatrist bought another of our houses in south Knoxville.

folks need to get out more and see the world as it actually is, not as they pretend it to be.

Anonymous's picture

Don't bother, rocket.

eventually, you get tired of arguing with morons like this .. the same folks who sit at home 1,000 miles away from downtown yet manage to post at least ten times a day that there is no one and no parking downtown. They're either ignorant or it doesn't fit into their view of the world that people might actually not live in Rocking Hills Phase 4443.

But you could politely point out to them that building that nice, fancy West Knox hospital that didn't roll in the patients is what started this turkey.

Pam Strickland's picture

If I needed an ER, I'm right

If I needed an ER, I'm right at St. Mary's. To get north or west is at least half an hour, probably more if the traffic is its usual state of lovely. There are a few thousand other people who are just as thankful as I am for that proximity.

Pam Strickland

"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." ~Kurt Vonnegut

talidapali's picture

Way to forget...

all those folks that live in East Knoxville. A lot of them are paying customers too, you know. And I suppose that all those indigent types in East Knoxville...well, hell, they don't need health care anyways, now do they?

There is more than enough need for a hospital near downtown. People from East Knoxville would have to ride for at least a half hour just to get to help in any direction. Not to mention how much the trip will increase when they shut down I-40 in May.

Heck it takes me longer to drive from Halls to the Emory Road location of St. Mary's North than it does to drive down Broadway to the main campus of St. Mary's.

"You can't fix stupid..." ~ Ron White"
"I never said I wasn't a brat..." ~ Talidapali

RayCapps's picture

Not just the cost...

For the so-called "minor" surgeries where the risk of complications is sufficiently low, recoverty time, patient comfort, and patient satisfaction are all enhanced by outpatient treatment. I can honestly say that, even if my insurance coverage provided 100% of the cost of an overnight stay, I'd go home if I had the option. Wouldn't you?

As for the main subject, I suspect there would be a fairly prohibitive cost of retrofitting either Baptist or St. Mary's with all the technological and comfort niceties that are going into newer facilities like St. Mary's North and Baptist West. Then, too, you have to look at the the cost of operating two completely separate and aging facilities located only a couple of miles from one another. Closing either one would mean significantly expanding the other as boomers continue to age, and neither location is conducive to that sort of growth. Finally, Baptist Hospital is occupying real estate that could provide a lovely return to its owners if the land is converted to other use. It could also be a boon to the community and facilitate tying the eastern and western portions of the South Knox Riverfront into a cohesive whole if Baptist wasn't sitting where it is. If you climbed into a way back machine, you might be surprised to learn that Baptist is sitting on land that used to be a public park, anyway.

I can't speak to the glories of more modern architecture. It all looks like big, boring concrete squares to me. I'm much more into the highly ornate, exquisitely detailed, and even ostentatiously overblown stuff that came out of the Victorian and Edwardian eras. So I'm not really qualified to put forward the "architectually interesting" argument to save big box Baptist Hospital. The oldest parts of St. Mary's, however, are quite beautiful to me and will be sorely missed by this Knox resident. Also, unlike with Baptist, I really don't know what could be done with the St. Mary's site. It would be unwise, unsightly, and unsafe to let something of that magnitude just sit there unoccupied next to a public high school. Any ideas?

talidapali's picture

Convert it to a technology training center...

It would be unwise, unsightly, and unsafe to let something of that magnitude just sit there unoccupied next to a public high school. Any ideas?

and continuing adult education center. Include classes in hotel/restaurant management, computer programming, graphic arts (like CAD and CGI), basically make that hill a junior college type place that provides working adults with a place to learn new jobs skills while continuing to work by providing night classes, and a place for high school graduates that are having trouble making the transition to college to get credits under their belt in a more relaxed atmosphere.

But probably that will not be what it is used for. My best guess is that it will be totally converted to medical office space and outpatient services. There are several large medical groups like ETHC that are currently at Baptist which could probably move to the St. Mary's campus without too much fuss.

"You can't fix stupid..." ~ Ron White"
"I never said I wasn't a brat..." ~ Talidapali

ANGRYWOLF's picture

I don't see how they will be able to finance a new Hospital

because of the bond ratings and the credit crunch.

Debra London deceived the Baptist employees when St Mary's took over Baptist.I feel sorry for the rank and file employees but not for the corrupt managers especially those in the administration and HR there.

RayCapps's picture

I Don't think the plan is immediate:

I believe the plan is to first consolidate their bed floors at the main St. Mary's campus, the St. Mary's North Campus, and the much underutilized Baptist West campus, and basically shut down many floors of the current main Baptist facility. There's an immediate savings in operating costs by doing that.

The "new downtown" hospital campus is still some time away. No site has been selected. No timetable has been established. I don't think the "credit crunch" will be a factor by the time they're finally ready start lining up the financing.

I'm also not sure how many people will be losing their jobs. Nurses (LPN's & RN's especially) have probably the best job to qualified applicant ratios in the nation right now. Locally, too, there's shortage of qualified nurses - especially ones willing to do "floor nursing." CNA's, orderlies, and lab techs are also probably pretty secure in terms of keeping their jobs. Many will be relocated, but I doubt there'll be any layoffs among the direct caregivers. It's really an applicant's market in most healthcare fields right now. There are bound to be more job losses amongst the support staff (payroll, IT, middle and upper management, etc.) but most of these would have occurred with or without the scaling back of the main Baptist campus. Wheneber you have consolidation, it's followed by a winnowing of duplicate services (hence, the local pro-Metro argument). There may or may not be some scaleback of maintenace personnel depending on how many systems they are able to shut off. Food service workers, of course, will be gone from Baptist. All in all, I doubt the payroll impact will be very significant in percentage terms. It will, needless to say, be very significant to those who are going to be losing their jobs. No, I'm not a spokesman for Mercy... I just realized I sound like one, though.

Ragsdale2010's picture

London Didn't Seem Real Sure of Herself

on camera and seemed to have some hesitation explaining why they were doing what they were doing, much, much sooner than they had indicated they would be doing something.

One has to wonder if the financial drag there and out west might just pull the Sisters of Mercy out of their rockers and back into the streets collecting for charitable purposes.

In my opinion, the talk and chatter about a new downtown hospital is just a deflection to get away from them actually doing something they said they would not do last year.

rocketsquirrel's picture

London seemed pretty sure of

London seemed pretty sure of things back in November.

London said within six months of officially merging, an independent consultant would be hired to develop a strategic plan to guide the merging of the two systems operationally and determining capital expenditures on each campus.

Late last year St. Mary's announced a major overhaul of its Oak Hill Avenue campus but that project has been put on hold. London said there are no plans to close any of Baptist's or St. Mary's facilities.

"Right now, we need all of the facilities," London said.

By "right now" she meant today, November 16, 2007. By Nov. 17, all bets were off.

Hey Ms. London, how is that 6-month strategic plan going? Were you that quick with it? What independent consultant did you hire?

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