County leaders take The MED's funding battle to Nashville

By Nick Kenney - bio | email

NASHVILLE, TN (WMC-TV) - Shelby County leaders spent Wednesday in Nashville, fighting for additional funds needed to keep The MED's emergency room up and running.

Inside the State Capitol, Shelby County Mayor Joe Ford addressed the county's legislative delegation.

"Tell them the needs that we need at The MED," he said.

Officials at The MED say the hospital's emergency room will be forced to close its doors if additional funding is not secured.

"We need to stay whole plus we need an additional 32 million dollars, and so that's the message we're trying to bring," said Claud Watts, President and CEO of The MED.

Earlier this week, the Shelby County Commission approved an additional $10 million per year for the hospital..

Wednesday in Nashville, Commissioner Mike Ritz sought help from local legislators and the deputy governor.  Ritz said the state should use the county's additional $10 million to seek matching federal money.

"I think if the Shelby delegation can convince the governor that his budget doesn't get approved unless he helps us figure out something for The Med, that's all we really have to do," Ritz said.

In other words, the future of the Med may rely on politics as usual.

"Rule 22: We have 22 legislators. 16 representatives and 6 senators," said Rep. G.A. Hardaway. "Not only do we have numbers, but we also have leadership positions that are filled by members of the legislative delegation, and we plan to exert whatever legislative influence that we have."

Legislators said they would need to move quickly on the issue.  According to officials at The MED, the hospital needs to secure the additional funding by mid-February, or its emergency room doors will close.

Copyright 2010 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.