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Mission Health Agrees To 'Sit-Down' With Macon Residents

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Davin Eldridge
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Come July 14, once Angel Medical Center's Labor and Delivery unit is officially discontinued, expectant mothers will no longer be able to give birth at the hospital.

In the wake of Mission Health’s controversial decision to end baby deliveries at Angel Medical Center, health system officials have agreed to meet with concerned residents in Macon County.

Nothing yet is set in stone, but Mission Health President Dr. Ron Paulus has agreed to a ‘sit-down’ with local leaders, and a small cross-section of residents.

Franklin Mayor Bob Scott has served as liaison in getting the two parties to meet: “Right now, I’m not ready to say when, or the time, because we’re going to have to work out the logistics of it.”

The so-called ‘sit-down’ has come at the request of residents who, in the weeks following the announcement that Angel would no longer deliver babies, formed a group called Operation Heartbeat 2-- in honor of a fundraiser held for Angel back in 1971 to keep it afloat.

“It’s very frustrating as the mayor of the town to know that this has happened. It’s kind of like having a big fire or some sort of disaster. At the same time I feel sort of helpless… It’s impacting our residents.”

But the meeting was agreed to with a stipulation of a few ground rules: no media, no protesting, and it must be small. Nevertheless, Mayor Scott is grateful Dr. Paulus has agreed to meet, remarking that when the decision was first made, it in no way involved the public that it would directly come to impact.

“I think something good could come from the meeting. At least we’re face-to-face, and we’re hearing each other’s problems on an individual type of basis, instead of through a news release.”

Scott adds official from Macon County government may also attend the sit-down. County Commissioner Jim Tate said in a statement that he would not be opposed to attending the meeting.  He says they’re still “in shock” by Mission’s decision, and would like to better understand its position.

Again, Mayor Scott: “A lot of people feel that they were blindsided by this. They want to continue that relationship of it being a community hospital, with a say-so from the community. Any time you can do a face to face, you settle major problems. Whether they’ll get the answers they want, I don’t know. But, at least we do have the opportunity to talk face to face. This is what means so much to the community.”

In his letter agreeing to the meeting, Dr. Paulus thanked the mayor for his assurance the sit-down would not be confrontational, saying it would be “required for any kind of productive interchange”. However, he also reiterated how difficult but necessary the decision was by Mission to end labor and delivery services, and added that the new $43 million facility it pledged to build in Franklin will serve the community for many decades to come. 

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