Unicoi County Memorial Hospital | News Article

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Construction begins on new Unicoi County Memorial Hospital

Unicoi County Memorial Hospital team members pose for their groundbreaking photo.

ERWIN, Tenn. – Construction has officially begun on the new Unicoi County Memorial Hospital. On Wednesday, July 26, hospital officials and local stakeholders gathered at the construction site for a groundbreaking ceremony and community barbecue to celebrate the milestone.

The new hospital will replace the current Unicoi County Memorial Hospital, which originally opened back in 1953.

For a gallery of great photos from the groundbreaking, click here.

The facility will be built at 2030 Temple Hill Road, off of Interstate 26. It will have 20 total beds, inpatient acute-care services, as well as resources for increasing access to primary care. It will also include a 24-hour emergency department, standard and advanced diagnostics, a chest pain center, an area for community education and physician office space.

“Countless hours have gone into making this dream a reality, and we’re excited to see the community’s vision beginning to take shape,” said Eric Carroll, administrator of Unicoi County Memorial Hospital.

A visioning committee made up of hospital leaders and community stakeholders helped to lead the early planning phases of the project, and after conducting due diligence and reviewing third-party research on rural hospital services, the visioning committee developed 10 guiding principles for the new hospital. Dr. Jose Picaza shows off the future Unicoi County Memorial Hospital.According to those principles, the new hospital needed to be:

  • Patient- and family-centered;
  • Safe and efficient;
  • Economically feasible;
  • Accessible and easy to navigate;
  • Able to optimize resources;
  • Flexible and adaptable;
  • Supportive of advanced technology;
  • Environmentally friendly;
  • Attractive to health care professionals; and
  • Supportive of higher education.

With that vision in mind, the land purchase for the new hospital was finalized in July 2015, and the final plan for the hospital for unanimously approved by the Mountain States board of directors in February 2016. Earl Swensson Associates was selected as the architect and Layton Construction as the contractor, and in December 2016, the State of Tennessee granted Mountain States the certificate of need to build the new facility.


“Mountain States is pleased to be able to support health care in Unicoi County by breaking ground on this new facility,” said Alan Levine, president and chief executive officer of Mountain States. “Preserving access to care in rural communities is a big part of what we do as a not-for-profit health system, and it’s why our proposed merger with Wellmont Health System is so important. As part of the Certificate of Public Advantage application, we’ve committed to invest $140 million over 10 years to enhance health care services and expand access to care in communities throughout the region.


“Building this facility is a great first step toward meeting the health care needs of Unicoi County residents, but there is so much more that we want to do to improve population health and help reverse some of the trends our region sees in mental illness, addiction and chronic disease.”


Construction on the hospital will continue through the next year and is expected to be complete in the fall of 2018.