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Vanderbilt gets OK for new $144 million Tennessee hospital, despite opposition

por Thomas Dworetzky, Contributing Reporter | December 21, 2021
Business Affairs

In making its case, the center noted that Vanderbilt has treated over 52,000 Rutherford County residents in the last year, up 20% from 2018. The 2020 census shows that the county's population is up 30% in the last decade — with a drop to “53% fewer staffed hospital beds per resident than the average of Tennessee’s other large counties,” according to the announcement.

“Our commitment is to make VUMC’s services more convenient for our patients while also meeting the future needs of the county’s remarkable growth,” said Pinson.

Dr. Kenneth Patric, who made the motion to approve before the regulators, stressed the fact that while more beds may not necessarily be required at present, many patients in the area already go to Vanderbilt in Nashville for care instead of heading to local facilities like Ascension Saint Thomas Rutherford and TriStar Stonecrest. “Particularly in the pediatric population and some of the other specialized areas like cardiac, there is indeed the need, and we should allow consumers to make that choice once this is established."

Vanderbilt is known as a go-to hospital when cutting-edge medicine is called for in the region. In September 2020, VUMC performed what it said was the first-ever dual heart-lung transplant for a COVID-19 patient. “The patient wasn’t infectious, so no special equipment was used during the surgery,” Dr Ashish Shah, professor and chair of cardiac surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told HCB News. He added that the devastation from the virus to the patient's lungs and heart necessitated the operation.

A dual heart-lung procedure was first done at VUMC in 2006. It is rare and typically done only at major transplant centers. “I think the procedure will remain rare, but it’s worrisome that there may be long-term effects of COVID-19 even past the initial infection,” said Shah.

The new 42-bed, Rutherford hospital is slated to be built at Veterans Parkway and State Route 840.

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