Lease pending for new ambulance station at old hospital

Sue Guinn Legg • Updated Aug 13, 2019 at 9:40 PM

ERWIN — Unicoi County officials have received a lease offer on space for ambulance station at the former Unicoi County Memorial Hospital.

Mayor Garland “Bubba” Evely said the offer of a sublease from Christian Care Center of Unicoi County arrived Monday afternoon and is being reviewed by the county attorney.

A Tuesday meeting of the County Commission’s Building and Grounds Committee to discuss the location of the ambulance station was postponed to give the commissioners time to look over the lease offer.

The lease includes a three-bay maintenance building and residential and office space located adjacent to the old hospital building. Evely said the cost of the lease was considerably less than the ambulance station’s previous location at Interstate 26’s Exit 36, but noted cost is not the sole factor to be considered and cited the bay area that will allow the ambulances to be kept inside as an example.

Commissioners and representatives of Washington County/Johnson City Emergency Medical Services toured the former hospital property earlier this year during negotiations of an inter-local agreement through which Washington County will provide ambulance service in Unicoi County for the next year.

WC/JC EMS entered the temporary service agreement in an attempt to help Unicoi County establish its own, locally controlled ambulance service and end its dependence on private, for profit providers.

The lease of the former hospital property was dependent on negotiations with the Unicoi County Memorial Hospital board, which continues to own the buildings.

The negotiations were expedited last week after a bedbug infestation at the former ambulance station forced the staff to relocate to temporary quarters in the police training center on the lower level of Erwin Town Hall.