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After Their 'Sit-Down' With Mission CEO, Macon Residents Have More Questions Than Answers

Operation Heartbeat Two
Macon County leaders and the group known as Operation Heartbeat Two met with Dr. Ron Paulus of Mission Health recently for a 'sit-down', to finally speak with the CEO as members of the public impacted by the recent L&D closure.

On the heels of Mission Health’s controversial decision to end Labor and Delivery services at Angel Medical Center, health system officials recently met with concerned citizens of Macon County for a so-called ‘sit-down’.

Nearly a dozen members of Macon County’s Operation Heartbeat 2 came prepared for the long awaited meeting with Mission Health’s Dr. Paulus. The group is named in honor of a fundraiser held for Angel back in 1971 to keep it afloat.  They acted as representatives for the hundreds of young mothers in the area upset by Mission’s recent decision—and the group, in addition to elected officials, had plenty of questions.

“It was a cordial meeting, however I do not feel that we got any real answers,” that’s Franklin Mayor Bob Scott, who helped to facilitate the meeting. “We got the PR side of it, and no real reason why they were closing the labor and delivery. I just don’t think they’ve proven their case.

Dr. Paulus agreed to meet with the group at Southwestern Community College in Macon County, only after they agreed to keep their numbers at the meeting limited to about a dozen, while barring any media from covering it.  Kate McMahan, a local school teacher, says Dr. Paulus only seemed to stick to bullet points regarding their concerns—like the closure of Angel’s labor and delivery unit.

“He really only gave us three answers: the first being that between 2013 and 2017, births had declined in Angel’s service area. But the evidence that we have doesn’t support that.”

McMahan performed extensive research on Angel's operations and finances. She said while there was in fact a decline in child births from 2015 to 2016, it wasn’t significant. Through its findings, the group disagreed with Dr. Paulus on several other issues at the meeting, including physician availability, management contracts, system priorities and charters, as well as the feasibility of transporting women over the mountains in inclement weather—an issue they say Dr. Paulus said could be done ‘reasonably’. At the end of the day, the whole ‘sit-down’ just didn’t seem to sit-well with the group, which now has more questions than answers.  

When confronted with the economic impact the closure would have on the area, the group says Dr. Paulus reiterated his point that the healthcare system needed to eliminate some $1.1 billion by 2025. 

The group suggested Angel keep its delivery center open for three more months as a trial, as Mission has now cut three quarters of its costs—or well over a million dollars—but Paulus declined, says Dan Kowal, a Macon County teacher. 

Mission released a statement via email, saying the meeting "allowed for a review of the information that has already been shared with media."  Mission added it's looking forward to sharing new information in the coming months on the new hospital it is set to build in Franklin, which was announced around the same time the closure of Angel's delivery center was made public. 

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