State and local officials and health industry leaders announced on Monday, Feb. 15, a new coalition that will work to address the lack of emergency health services in northern Greenville County.
The coalition, the North Greenville Emergency Services Work Group, is a joint effort of Greenville County, the Medical University of South Carolina and Bon Secours St. Francis. It will work to replace services previously provided by North Greenville Hospital.
Previously, Prisma Health operated North Greenville Hospital, but its emergency department closed in fall 2020. In response, state Rep. Mike Burns of Greenville reached out to several health systems to help, according to a statement from the coalition. In December, representatives from Bon Secours, MUSC and Greenville County met to agree to pursue the subject.
The North Greenville campus now provides diagnostic services, including mammography, MRI, CT and other laboratory services.
According to Burns, an ambulance could take as long as 40 minutes to get to some parts of northern Greenville County from the closest emergency department.
Prisma closing its emergency department created a huge health care gap, said Burns. “We’ve been working, trying to get different entities interested in emergency care services in northern Greenville County,” he said.
“What we’re trying to do is put together a freestanding emergency room,” said Burns. The facility would feature telemedicine models supported with assistance from MUSC, according to Burns.
“It’s a model for not only South Carolina, but it will be a model for the nation,” Burns added.
The coalition has to finalize plans and figure out the logistics of funding and location, but officials say they’ve already been working behind the scenes to get the project rolling.
Travelers Rest Mayor Brandy Amidon said the services discussed by the coalition will come as a relief to her constituents. She said their main concern is the what if: “What if I have a heart attack; what if … I have a horrific accident? Who’s going to step in and take care of me?”
South Carolina Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette spoke with doctors over the past weekend who had worked at North Greenville. Evette, who is a resident of Travelers Rest, said, “[The doctors] were very concerned because the accidents they get there are very severe. And the fact that they would have a 40-minute, 45-minute drive to somebody that was injured and then back to the hospital would definitely be life-threatening.”
Greenville County Councilman Joe Dill, Bon Secours St. Francis President Matt Caldwell and Matt Severance of MUSC were among those who attended the announcement.