ONEIDA, Tenn. (WVLT) -- At 12:01 Thursday morning, the Emergency Room doors at Scott County's only hospital were closed and locked, and there's no certainty when it will reopen.
"It's almost like a funeral, watching a big extended family trying to break up," says Dr. Jan Robbins, a doctor at the hospital.
Johnny Chambers is upset about the hospital closing, "This hospital is great, it's been a good thing for this community and I know it'll closes and people will die because it's not open."
Johnny Chambers was born inside this hospital, and 20 years ago the doctors saved his leg from amputation. His fiancee Jill Doran almost lost her son to an infection if she had to travel further than Oneida.
"You know we've got a golden hour to live. If we're in a car accident we have a golden hour and this right here is this county's golden hour," says Doran.
The ambulances have their work cut out for them. Crews are already taking patients to other hospitals in neighboring counties. The problem is even the closest is still 40 miles away.
The budget will be stretched thin to make those drives.
"That is not the concern now, the concern now is providing service to the county and well deal with that when we see what we really have.," says Jim Reed, Scott County's EMS Director.
For now, the hospitals time is done, but some of its workers are optimistic and can't wait to come back.
I'll be the first one through the door. This is my family, this is my home, this is where I want to work," says Dr. Robbins.
Hospital employees prayed out in front of the hospital one last time before they left.
County Mayor Jeff Tibbals says the county is in talks with several potential operators that could either purchase or lease the hospital.
"We are working diligently, many man-hours are going into this process. Even if the doors close tonight, we will continue to search to find an operator at that hospital," said Mayor Tibbals.
He says the hospital is valued on the market somewhere between $2-4 million. He adds he would prefer to see it leased because that way of the contract is terminated, like in this situation, then at least the county can take it over.
But he also said he wants what's best for the people of the county, and that's for these doors to open back up soon.
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