GREENVILLE – The reopening of the emergency department at Prisma Health’s North Greenville Hospital in Travelers Rest came closer on Aug. 22 as the Greenville County Council Finance Committee voted to allocate nearly $13.5 million dollars from its share of federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to the project.
The move came as government agencies and nonprofits presented the committee with a share of the county’s remaining unallocated ARPA funds, which the county received in a second wave of pandemic relief funding. coronavirus passed by Congress. The county has already allocated $83 million of the $101.5 million it received in two installments, but has not yet decided how the remaining money should be spent.
Prisma Health has requested $16.9 million, an amount the health system says would allow it to reopen and staff an emergency room and other medical services at its northernmost hospital for at least less than seven years.
The health system closed the emergency room in April 2020 and temporarily converted the hospital into a coronavirus treatment center. He chose not to reopen the emergency department, citing annual operating losses of $3 million.
But some members of the community and county council pushed to reopen the facility. Other board members lobbied to fund a stand-alone emergency room run by a partnership between Bon Secours Health System and the Medical University of South Carolina.
Clarence Sevillian, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Prisma, told members of the finance committee that the health system would commit to opening the emergency room for seven years, but expected that be sustainable by the end of the fifth year if the county provides funding. .
Sevillian said the emergency could be operational within 100 days of a county contract being approved. He said he was confident the health care system would be able to hire the doctors and staff needed to run the emergency department within that time frame.
Asked by councilor Ennis Fant, Sevillian said Prisma would still commit to the plan with less funding.
The finance committee voted on a plan to provide $13.5 million to Prisma. The full board has yet to approve the committee’s recommendations.
The committee recommended allocating $3 million of the remaining money to the Metropolitan Sewer Subdistrict, or MetroConnects, for the Consolidated Sewer Provider’s plan to replace 120-year-old sewer lines in the mill villages of Dunean and Mills Mill.
MetroConnects requested $4 million, but its CEO, Carol Elliott, said the utility would provide an additional $1 million to use in return for the $20 million in grants it is seeking from the state for development projects. factory sewer.
The county plans to use the remaining $2 million in ARPA funds to move its emergency department from County Square to a proposed new headquarters in McAllister Square along Pleasantburg Drive.
The county is to relocate EMS as it vacates the existing County Square building ahead of its demolition as part of the nearly 40-acre, billion-dollar redevelopment at the corner of Church Street and University Ridge in downtown Greenville.
Greenville County Administrator Joe Kernell said the county would incur expenses to relocate its emergency department, but would find the money elsewhere in the county budget to cover those costs.
The committee has decided not to allocate funds to a number of non-profit entities that have requested money. Councilor Dan Tripp, chair of the committee, said nonprofits received millions in the first round of federal COVID relief and there was no official request for the money. from ARPA, it wouldn’t be a fair process to give money to some in this round.
Councilman Stan Tzouvelekas had asked the committee to allocate $250,000 to Safe Harbor, the shelter for victims of domestic violence.
Tzouvelekas also questioned Prisma’s proposal and asked if there was really a demand for an emergency room at Travelers Rest since the health system said it was not feasible just three years ago. year.
In response to questions, Sevillian financially said Prisma was “in between” on whether it could make an emergency work. The northern part of the county has continued to grow in the years since its emergency room closed and an urgent care center opened in its place, he said.
“I think we need to have a 15-year commitment for county investment,” Tzouvelekas said.
Kernell said he would negotiate how long Prisma would commit to keeping the North Greenville emergency room open based on the amount allocated by the county.
Follow Nathaniel Cary on Twitter at @nathanielcary