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HAYWOOD COUNTY, Tenn. — Haywood Park Community Hospital has been closed for more than six years, leaving nearby residents more than an hour away from medical care when disaster strikes. A situation like that is even more dangerous, during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the hospital is finally re-opening.

As hospitals around the country struggling since the pandemic hit, health experts credited Haywood County officials for getting the hospital re-opened

“It took a lot of parts and a lot of pieces,” Dr. Beau Braden, CEO Braden Health, said. “But the first thing was, the mayor here has a real love for this hospital and has been trying to get it opened up.”

Braden Health owns, and operates hospitals across the country. They saw a void in medical care for Haywood County residents. Additionally, they found local leadership anxious to do business and realized an opportunity.

The re-opening of Haywood County’s Hospital goes against a handful of COVID-related trends. Since the pandemic hit, rural hospitals have struggled, with the state of Tennessee seeing the highest number of rural hospital closures per capita. Officials are confident the facility will provide numerous benefits.

“It has a tremendous impact,” Braden said. “Opening up this hospital here just provides an opportunity to really improve the health of Haywood County.”

Kyle Kopec, the Chief Compliance Officer Braden Health, said the hospital will create 134 jobs.

Many hospitals are still hurting financially due to fewer outpatient and elective procedures during the pandemic. Haywood County’s Hospital believes it will be positioned for long-term success by focusing on primary care and chronic treatment.

“Chronic issues that every community needs whether COVID is there or not. So for us, it’s more about what the community needs with or without the pandemic,” Braden said.

 Hospital officials still have to upgrade the facility and hire new staff, but they hope to have the doors open and be treating patients in 8-12 months.