By Michelle Price
Special to the UCBJ
COOKEVILLE – After both original bidders for Celina’s Cumberland River Hospital (CRH) failed to complete the steps necessary to complete the purchase, the Cookeville Regional Medical Center Authority (CRMCA) voted last night to reject all bids and dispose of the property as authorized in a resolution passed March 6. The real estate and hospital assets will now be sold to Rural Hospital & Clinics of America, Inc. of Crossville.
“The purchase price of $200,000 includes real estate and hospital assets,” said Luke Hill, CRMC chief legal counsel. “It is everything that was included before minus the home healthcare license. That is separate and we’re still determining our options with the home healthcare license.”
Rural Hospital & Clinics of America, Inc. is a newly formed Crossville corporation. The registered agent is Johnny Presley. Although this is a new company, Mr. Presley has a long-standing relationship with CRMC.
“Johnny Presley is somebody we have, at the medical center, been working with for several years in Crossville,” said Paul Korth, CRMC CEO. “He’s got a clinic up there and we rent space from him. We have some of our specialty doctors going up there. So, he’s been in the provider network and region for quite some time.”
There were two bids received for CRH in response to the April 22 request for proposals.
The high bidder, The Osborn Group, failed to secure the funding to complete the purchase. CRMCA began working with Celina Healthcare, LLC on the purchase and it became apparent that they were primarily interested in the home healthcare license.
“Their focus is on the home health license which is the reason why we’re separating these two,” said Hill. “Mr. Presley’s focus is on the hospital. We believe that he’ll be able to get those services back up, while Mr. Clapp’s (Celina Healthcare, LLC) focus appears to be home health business. We’ll handle that later, but for purposes of the hospital, we’re moving forward with Mr. Presley.”
Presley reached out to CRMC saying that he wanted to open and operate a facility in Celina. He has plans to use CRH as a hospital.
“He intends on starting slowly, opening some sort of outpatient clinic services and eventually we believe his goal is to be opening some aspect of the hospital back up, general psych and inpatient beds,” shared Hill.
Korth said that Presley could open a clinic almost instantaneously, as soon as he gets providers and gets people in there for a clinic side. Opening the hospital back up requires state approval and Presley has already met with the state and other individuals to hopefully speed that up.
“If council considers this and approves it on Aug. 1, Mr. Presley is ready to close on Aug. 2. So, we’re ready to move fast,” said Korth.
If the sale is approved by the Cookeville City Council on Aug. 1, there are still a few steps.
“This will be the final step for purposes of this board and the city,” said Hill. “We still have some approval processes with the state, the attorney general and the department of health, but those are secondary. These are the two big steps. It will go to the city next then we are well on our way.”
Clay County officials are excited about the prospect of the hospital reopening.
“We certainly need healthcare,” said Clay County Mayor Dale Reagan. “This will take some of the extra strain off of our ambulance service. Anything we can do to make that happen; we want to try to do anything we possibly can. It seems like it’s been a long time coming, but hopefully this is something that may work out for us.”