GREENEVILLE, TN – A special ground-breaking ceremony was held Thursday morning at Takoma Adventist Hospital, future site of a new Greeneville-Greene County Emergency Medical Service substation.
The new branch will serve south Greene County residents and those who live along the Newport Highway, according to Robert Sayne, EMS director.
“This new facility will significantly decrease our response time for these residents and therefore save lives,” Sayne said.
The area is currently served by a substation on Depot Street. “Although it is only about a mile away from Takoma, there are times when the Main Street-Asheville Highway intersection is blocked by a train, forcing us to find an alternate, and subsequently, longer route,” Sayne explained.
The new substation, which will have three ambulances, will also serve all of downtown Greeneville, he noted. “We’re only moving less than a mile from our current location, so it won’t affect response time for them at all,” Sayne stressed.
Another reason for the move is that the Depot Street substation is housed in a cramped, 50-year-old building with “serious electrical and plumbing problems,” he said. “The cost to bring that building up to code and make it livable would cost more than what Takoma is spending to open the new substation,” Sayne said.
Sayne praised Takoma for “giving back to our community” by providing a viable facility. “We’re all very excited about the move,” he said.
Carlyle Walton, president and chief executive officer at Takoma, said he is equally pleased to participate in the project. “At Takoma, it is our passion to become a healing sanctuary for our community, and we are truly honored to be a part of this project that will significantly decrease EMS response time for many citizens of our community.”
Plans call for the renovation of the former medical offices of Drs. Robert Bridges and Frederick Myers on the Takoma campus, near the corner of the Asheville Highway and Coolidge Street. The two-story brick building will be renovated, and a bay for the ambulances constructed in part of the hospital’s associate parking lot behind the building, Walton said.
“Renovations should be completed in about 120 days,” he said.
The project originated with Greene County Mayor Roger Jones, who approached Takoma about a year ago with the idea of a public-private partnership for the new substation. “The idea was enthusiastically endorsed by our Foundation Board, who made a commitment to raise the approximately $200,000 needed to renovate the medical office building to house the EMS team and three ambulances,” Walton said.
During Thursday’s ground-breaking ceremony, Jones described the new substation as “a dream of mine.”
He said that EMS currently has substations in Mosheim, Tusculum, Baileyton and “now we’ll have one on this end of the county.”
Jones noted that the more accessible location of the new substation on the Takoma campus will shorten response time and “that’s what it’s all about.”
Tony Nix, Foundation board member and president of the Greene County Partnership, said the community is blessed by the presence of Takoma. “We thank Takoma Hospital and the Takoma Foundation, as we recognize this project as a quality-of-life improvement to the communities this station will serve,” he said.
Takoma’s role includes executing a long-term lease with Greene County at $1 a year for use of the renovated property as an EMS substation, and partnering with community volunteers who serve on the Foundation board “who selflessly give their time, talents and treasures to enhance our community by raising the funds needed for this project,” Walton said.
He praised Jerry Fortner and the C&C Millwright team for providing construction at cost, and Jerry Smith and The Design Group for working on the architectural details of the project with Sayne and his staff.
So far, more than $105,000 has been raised for the project, Walton said. “We are confident that the balance will be raised in 2006 through our upcoming golf classic, Christmas concert and through community contributions.”
Another project fund-raiser called “The 1928 Society” was announced by Lindy Riley, Foundation director.
Residents are asked to donate $19.28 to help pay for the substation’s renovations. “The significance of 1928 is that’s the year Dr. Leroy Coolidge founded Takoma Hospital and Sanitarium 78 years ago,” Riley explained. “We are celebrating over three-quarters of a century of quality healthcare provided to Greeneville and its environs.”
To donate money to the EMS Substation Project, please contact Lindy Riley at 798-8136.