Brittney Burns – Staff Writer
Mission Health Systems CEO Dr. Ron Paulus agreed to a meeting with a select group of Macon County citizens on Monday afternoon, but was very specific in his stipulations.
The meeting was facilitated by Franklin Mayor Bob Scott, who served as a go-between between Dr. Paulus and his media team and residents of Macon County seeking answers regarding the closing of Labor and Delivery at Angel Medical Center. After July 14, the hospital will no longer operate a women’s unit or deliver babies.
Dr. Paulus agreed to the meeting based on the stipulations that only 12 people be in attendance, which included Scott, county commissioners Ronnie Beale and Jim Tate, County Manager Derek Roland, and members of the group Operation Heartbeat Two who have been active in trying to prevent the closing of the department. Dr. Paulus also limited the meeting to one hour, picked the location and specifically stated that no members of the media were allowed to attend.
“I got very little out of the meeting,” said Franklin Mayor Bob Scott. “It appears to me that Mission has made up its mind and they are not willing to work with the community to save labor and delivery. I have always considered Angel Medical Center a community hospital but it now appears to be only a profit center for Mission Health. The only way we could get Dr. Paulus to come to Franklin for a public meeting, was to agree to his ground rules. No media, only 12 people could attend and he limited the meeting to one hour. I agreed in my correspondence to Dr. Paulus and his public relations people because I felt that the meeting, with those ground rules, was better than no meeting at all.”
Commissioner Jim Tate shared Mayor Scott’s sentiment and noted that Dr. Paulus had generic, prepared statements and did little to address the concerns voiced during the meeting.
“Dr. Paulus was adamant in his answer that the reason for his closing was financial and kept reiterating that sentiment,” said Commissioner Tate.
Questions remain surrounding the next step for Mission and Angel Medical Center. While Mission has pledged a $43 million investment into a new hospital facility for Franklin, the plans for that facility in regards to what it will include and where it will be located are still not available to the public. It also still isn’t clear whether or not the new facility will be built where the current hospital is located or if it will be constructed on other property near the existing hospital.
Commissioner Ronnie Beale updated the public on Tuesday night during the board of commissioners meeting regarding the meeting and he said, unfortunately, after the meeting with Dr. Paulus it appeared the decision had been made by Mission Health and there was nothing the county could do to reverse their decision.
Mission Health was asked to comment on the meeting and the guidelines, but as of presstime, had not responded.