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Business Pulse - Hospital huge asset for our community
Hospital with ambulance
Saint Thomas River Park is one of 172 hospitals in Tennessee, according to the Tennessee Hospital Association. In addition to providing healthcare services to the region, it had an economic impact of over $19 million in 2015.

Since it’s an election year, Warren County residents have been treated to the healthcare views of everyone running for state and federal office. And it’s been so delightful.

There are fingers to point in every direction about what’s wrong with our healthcare system. I don’t think I have enough fingers on both hands to do all the pointing which needs to be done.

Before you start to get nervous, let me say this. I’m not going to make you endure my views on healthcare in this column. I’ll save that for the politicians. 

What I will say is Saint Thomas River Park Hospital is a tremendous asset to our community, arguably our single greatest asset. In an effort to show the value of hospitals throughout the state, the Tennessee Hospital Association is distributing information about their impact.
According to this information, River Park Hospital in 2015:

• cared for 62,037 patients
• provided 312 jobs
• had an economic impact of more than $19 million.

The Tennessee Hospital Association also says nine rural hospitals have closed in Tennessee since 2012. That is horrific news.
For an overall snapshot, THA says 172 hospitals operate in Tennessee. This creates direct employment for 180,532 hospital-based workers who earned $6 billion in 2015, the most recent year data is available.

Beyond boosting the economy, the work of hospitals to provide healthcare is vital to the well-being of Tennesseans. In 2015, the state’s hospitals treated 3.7 million people in emergency rooms, provided more than 8 million outpatient visits, and treated approximately 852,000 people during in-patient stays.

It’s also important to note hospitals are a key recruiting tool. It’s easier to attract industry and newcomers to a community with a nice hospital in place. If we didn’t have Saint Thomas River Park and had to drive 30 minutes for hospital care, that would be a major drawback.

So what is Warren County’s greatest asset? You could make an argument for a huge industrial employer like Bridgestone or Yorozu. If one of those industries were to leave, our economy would crumble.

Or you could make an argument for Saint Thomas River Park, which has undoubtedly saved lives with its emergency medical care. You could even make an argument for Walmart, our 24-hour place to buy everything.

The moral of this story is Saint Thomas River Park is awesome. We’re fortunate to have such a first-rate facility for all it provides our community. I’d hate to think of Warren County without it.

Deck your yard With a new deck

A deck is a great way to add a wow factor to your backyard. A fence is a great way to add a dash of privacy.

Derek Coates can provide both with his business which is aptly named Derek Coates Fencing and Decking. He has more than 25 years of experience and can provide a free estimate.

“It’s got to be good and it’s got to be right,” said Derek when discussing his work. “The way I figure it, if you do a bad job, that will be your only job. No one else will want to hire you. But if you take pride in what you do and do good work at a reasonable price, word will get around. Word of mouth will bring you more work.”

Chalk up Vervilla resident Charles Dotson as one of Derek’s satisfied customers. The senior pastor at East Sparta Church of God, Charles was quick to preach about the great job Derek did in building a deck around his above-ground pool.

“I’m very satisfied with the work and the price,” said Charles, who revealed he got three bids and Derek was by far the lowest. “I’d highly recommend him to anybody.”

Derek has an interesting story as he’s approaching three years of living in Warren County after moving here from England where he was born and raised. Derek says he was so eager to build, he got his first job in construction at age 15.

He says two things different in England are that: 1) the summer weather is not so brutally hot, and 2) the bugs are not so overbearing.

“In England you can reach for a board and not have to think anything about a snake or a spider,” said Derek. “Here you better pay attention to what you’re picking up. There are no venomous snakes and no venomous spiders in England.”

In his nearly three years here, Derek said the people couldn’t be any friendlier. He said one of his first jobs was building a deck for Cumberland Lumber president Buzz Spivey. Since he had yet to establish himself and didn’t have any other work lined up, Buzz offered him a job at Cumberland Lumber until he could build his fence and deck business.

He’s married to Lisa Coates, a WCMS teacher, who is formerly Lisa Prater.

“The irony of all this is I’ll never get a nice deck for myself,” said Lisa.

Added Derek, “You don’t get paid for work you do for yourself.”

Derek does all the digging manually with post-hole diggers. He does so much digging, he says he has learned to always have two on hand in case one breaks. He recently finished a 125-foot wooden fence in Manchester and says he can also do vinyl and chain-link fences.

If you have a project you’d like Derek to consider, he can be reached at (931) 743-4832. He says he has work lined up for the next two to four weeks but says he is eager to add more customers.

New veterinarian Moooooves in

From my trusty perch as a business writer, I’ve had the opportunity to follow large-animal veterinarian Dr. Mandy Hagan Willis as her career has blossomed here in Warren County.

I wrote about Mandy when she first arrived in 2008 and only made house calls because she didn’t have an office. Then I wrote about her in 2010 when she constructed an office in Morrison.

Now I’m writing about her again as her practice, Middle TN Vet Service, has grown to the point of needing another full-time veterinarian. Dr. Sarah Porter, a doctor in veterinary medicine, has joined her staff and joined the community as a resident of the Morrison area.

“I grew up on a farm and always liked the livestock side of things,” said Dr. Porter. “After vet school, I was fortunate to do a one-year internship at Tennessee Equine Hospital in Thompson’s Station. It’s a huge facility and I got to learn from 14 doctors and find out how they do things. You watch them and learn their ways and that helps you find your own way. Problem solving and finding out what’s wrong can be difficult because when it’s an animal you can’t just ask.”

Middle TN Vet Service deals primarily with large animals such as cows, horses, goats, sheep and pigs. The business does provide care for dogs and cats, but it’s primarily routine vaccinations, Dr. Willis says.

“We still make barn calls and we also see animals here too,” said Dr. Willis.

Large animal veterinary care is somewhat seasonal with the busiest time being in the spring. In the winter months, emergency care is the bulk of the business.

Dr. Willis and Dr. Porter both realize you have to exercise caution when treating animals that can be as big as a 2,000-pound bull.

“An animal that size doesn’t have to try very hard to hurt you so safety is a big thing,” said Dr. Porter.

The office is equipped with a hydraulic tilt that allows the hooves of animals to be examined in a safe manner. Other specialties include wound care, C-sections, hernia repair, and castration. Dr. Porter also specializes in treating lameness, performs joint injections and is planning to get her chiropractic license.

As for a brief biographical history, Dr. Porter grew up on a farm in Murfreesboro and attended MTSU for her undergraduate degree before going to the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine for her doctorate. She says she loves her job and she and husband James are pleased to be part of our community.

Middle TN Vet Service can be reached at (931) 409-3178. Office hours are Monday thru Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon.

Hotel nears Arrival date

There was a mild celebration Thursday during the monthly meeting of the Industrial Development Board as tax relief for a hotel project that’s been three years in the making is on the verge of being finalized.

“I think Don deserves a lot of credit for shepherding this through,” said IDB member Sandra Haynes to IDB director Don Alexander.

The estimated $10 million hotel project is close to the verge of getting the green light for property tax relief after city and county governments both approved a deal spearheaded by the IDB. Don said all that remains is approval from the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office and Tennessee Economic and Community Development.

After that, Don says hotel owner David Hunt is eager to get started on construction, be interviewed by the Southern Standard, and introduce himself to the community.

“I think this hotel will be good for all the citizens of Warren County,” said Don.

The tax relief will be for 20 years and will be worth an estimated $2 million in property tax savings over the life of the deal. In return, Warren County will get a 74-room hotel complete with indoor pool, conference center, restaurant and retail space.

That’s all folks

Let the countdown begin. The start of a new school year is 17 days away. Phone in your business tips at 473-2191.