Scott County Hospital has closed twice within the past five years, but will reopen under new ownership in the spring of 2017. (IH file photo)

HUNTSVILLE — Rennova Health Inc.’s new hospital division will be funded by a separate group of investors, Scott County Hospital CEO Tony Taylor told Scott County commissioners last week.

Speaking to County Commission’s Emergency Services Committee, Taylor said that the Florida-based company will launch a hospital division that is separate from its primary operations when it opens its first hospital in Oneida later this year.

“We’re going to be the first hospital in that hospital division for Rennova,” Taylor said. “With that comes another set of investors that are sitting over there with another group of money that is not tied to the lab side, so they have enough money to fund this and keep the hospital going.”

That reassurance likely came as welcome news to skeptical onlookers, who have pointed to Rennova’s seemingly questionable financial disclosures.

Rennova is not a traditional hospital provider; rather, it is a laboratory and diagnostics provider making its first foray into the hospital market. The company announced Dec. 23 that a federal bankruptcy court in Mississippi had approved its bid to purchase the local hospital from Pioneer Health Services, which is attempting to restructure after filing bankruptcy last spring.

Taylor said the process of reopening the hospital will be conducted much like when Pioneer opened the facility in 2012 — managers will be hired first, to prepare for inspections. Once that is final, the hospital will admit its first patient so that Medicare can conduct a mandatory audit. After the audit clears the hospital, the facility will fully open. That is expected to be in April.

Between now and then, Taylor said, Rennova plans to make $500,000 in building improvements, which will be primarily in the form of cosmetic upgrades outside the facility, with the potential for some remodeling inside, as well.

“We will be bringing back a lot of the staff that has requested to come back, which is good,” Taylor said, adding that most staff should be in place by the first of March. Managers are expected to be on board by the end of this month.

The hospital’s reopening cannot come soon enough for the Scott County Ambulance Service. EMS director Jim Reed updated the Emergency Services Committee last week on his department’s financial woes for the 2016 calendar year, much of which revolve around the hospital’s closure.

“We ran about a thousand less runs this year than we did last year,” Reed said. “Those thousand runs paid about $50 less per run, even with the out of town mileage and all that.”

Reed said the ambulance service needs to be reimbursed $360 per run to break even, now that patients are being transported to facilities outside Scott County. However, he said, the ambulance service is only receiving an average of $270 per run.

“The news that the hospital is opening, that’s really good to hear for the ambulance service,” Reed said. “For the people of this county, it’ll be a really good thing. Financially, we hope that’ll help us.”

Once the hospital is open, Reed said, the ambulance service’s cost per run will drop from $360 to $240. Between now and then, he said, the ambulance service’s goal is to make sure it can continue to fund itself.

“We are struggling to make sure we’re not going to wind up on the tax rate,” Reed said. “Our goal is not to become a part of the tax burden in this county.”

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