Nashville lawmakers tour troubled MED

By Anna Marie Hartman - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Tennessee lawmakers visited Memphis Friday to take an up close and personal look at The MED.

Despite a complaint filed against the State of Tennessee regarding how The Med is funded, talks between local and state leaders haven't stopped.  But that doesn't mean they're any closer to finding a solution to keep the doors of the hospital open.  

During their tour, lawmakers heard lot of convincing testimony as to why the Regional Medical Center should remain open.

"If it hadn't been for the NICU here, I very easily could have lost not only my son, but I could have lost my wife," Memphian J.C. Miles told them.

But it will take more than J.C Miles' miracle to produce the millions of dollars needed to keep the Med afloat for the next five months.  Friday, Tennessee's Deputy Governor and Speaker of the House were among those given a tour of the cash strapped facility.  

It was a cry for help from Shelby County lawmakers facing state budget cuts of historic proportions.

"The Shelby County legislative delegation has taken the position that we cannot afford to fail," Tennessee Rep. G.A. Hardaway said.

Visitors from Nashville were impressed with what they saw, but made no promise of a funding fix.

"We have never shut off discussions and will not until we can do the very best we can to come up with the best possible solution," Tennessee Deputy Gov. John Morgan said.

Local officials say they are doing what they can to fund the hospital.  The Shelby County Commission has pledged $10 million dollars.  Commissioners hope the Memphis City Council will pitch in $2 million more, and are also hoping for matching federal funds.

"If we're able to that it doesn't solve the problem by any means, but it certainly goes a long way toward dealing with the immediate issues," Morgan said.

Morgan added that Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen is interested in saving The Med, but with a long-term solution rather than a Band Aid.

"So that the services that are so critical that The Med delivers are services that will remain available to the people in this region forever," he said.

Speaker of the House Kent Williams supports dipping into the state's $575 million in reserves to help the ailing facility.  But as one of 132 votes in the legislature, there are no guarantees a solution will be reached in time.  

"Everybody wants to help The Med, but believe me, when politics get involved, there's gonna be a lot of resistance," Williams said.

And even if advocates for The Med win this year, it won't be long before the life saving hospital is back on life support.

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