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Rural southwest Virginia county marks hospital reopening

July 3, 2021 GMT

PENNINGTON GAP, Va. (AP) — A sprawling southwest Virginia county that lost its only hospital eight years ago celebrated the reopening of the facility this week.

Lee County Community Hospital, a 10-bed facility serving southwest Virginia and southeast Kentucky, officially opened its doors to the public on Thursday, Ballad Health announced in a news release. Gov. Ralph Northam and U.S. Sen. Mark Warner were among the dignitaries who attended a ribbon-cutting Friday.

The hospital’s reopening is a rare success story for a rural hospital; over the past decade, scores of rural hospitals in the U.S. have closed.

The Lee County facility abruptly shut its doors in 2013, leaving residents and EMS agencies facing long travel times for care elsewhere. Community leaders worked for years to find a way to reopen the hospital.

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“This triumphant chapter in Lee County is only possible because its community did not accept that outcome, and they sought a partner who could make a vision for healthcare in this rural area a reality,” Ballad Health Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Alan Levine said in a statement.

The facility will offer acute and emergency services 24/7, diagnostic radiology and lab services, outpatient cardiology, and additional rotating clinics for specialty care and telehealth access, Ballad said.