Fairfield County asks Prisma to slow ER purchase

Council spends $1M annually on ER, but was not aware it was being sold

WINNSBORO – In a strongly worded statement issued Tuesday morning, Fairfield County Council called on Prisma Health to “provide more information to the public, and to us,” regarding the impending acquisition of Providence Health-Fairfield Emergency Room in Winnsboro.

In the statement, the council said it is joining the elected leaders in Kershaw, Lexington and Richland counties in seeking more information. Those counties’ hospitals (Providence in Columbia, Providence Northeast in Richland County and KershawHealth in Camden) are also being purchased by Prisma Health. All four hospitals are owned by LifePoint Health out of Brentwood, TN.

Following the announcement of the pending sale last week, County Administrator Jason Taylor told The Voice that the county was having an attorney look at its contract regarding Providence Health-Fairfield Emergency Room to see if there are any possible negative ramifications.

“I have also talked with our Providence representative, Joseph Bernard, to ask if we could expect any changes,” Taylor said. “He said there should be none.”

The ER was funded by $12M from LifePoint Health for construction of the new facility and $10M ($1M a year for the next 10 years) from Fairfield County. South Carolina’s Hospital Transformation Program, which supports rural access to healthcare resources, contributed nearly $4M in transformational funding.

Our citizens deserve a voice in the future of their health care choices.

Fairfield County Council

The statement issued by council stated that “Prior to the March 6, 2020 media coverage publicly announcing this impending sale of these health care service providers, we had not been informed or consulted about this important change in the delivery of health care services in our communities. Our citizens deserve transparency and a voice in the future of health care choices where they call home.”

Council called on Prisma Health to slow down the process of the sale and to “begin a conversation with the citizens that count on available health care services in their communities. “

The ER opened in December 2018 near the intersection of Highway 34 and US Bypass 321 in Winnsboro to assure continued emergency health care for the citizens of Fairfield County as Fairfield Memorial Hospital began its process of closing its doors.

Bernard addressed the Fairfield County Council Monday evening with the purpose of updating Council, saying he would update council on the pending sale of the ER to Prisma, but his comments were limited, with no specifics.

“Right now, I have no idea what the timeline is for the sale to be finalized,” Bernard said. “We’re confident, however, that this is an enhancement for the community’s health care.”

“There are a lot of unanswered questions at this point,” Council Chairman Neil Robinson said following Monday night’s meeting. “As the council, we want to be sure that our citizens are provided the health care services that they need and deserve. We have questions.”