The fate of the closed hospital in Patrick County is still uncertain, as the property owner Foresight Health contradicts the county officials’ announcement that the project has been abandoned.
Foresight Health bought the hospital in 2022 with promises to reopen it
Foresight Health, a Chicago-based health care provider, acquired the property formerly known as Pioneer Community Hospital in mid-2022. The hospital had been closed since 2017, leaving the residents of Patrick County without access to local emergency care.
Foresight Health pledged to reopen the hospital by the end of 2022, and to offer a range of health care services, including primary care, urgent care, imaging, laboratory, pharmacy, and telemedicine. The company’s CEO, Sameer Suhail, said he was passionate about equal access to health care and committed to the project in Stuart.
However, the promised reopening date was missed, and the company’s leadership moved the expected opening to 2023. Again, no progress was made on the project, and Foresight Health failed to pay county taxes on the property for two years, according to Patrick County Supervisor Brandon Simmons.
County officials announced that the project has been scuttled
On Tuesday, January 25, 2024, county leaders announced in a news release that the plan to reopen the hospital had been scuttled. The community’s response was characterized as disappointed but not surprised. Foresight Health did not provide a reason for the change in plans, according to the release.
The announcement came after a bill by Del. Wren Williams, R-Patrick County, was approved by the General Assembly in 2023 to ease state regulations that would allow for a quicker path to reopening the hospital. Williams said he was frustrated and saddened by the news, and that he would continue to fight for health care access in Patrick County.
County Administrator Beth Simms, who sent out the release, did not respond to questions on Thursday.
Foresight Health claims that it is still considering all options
A day after the county officials’ announcement, Foresight Health issued a statement that contradicted the news release. The company said that it was still considering its options and that “nothing is off the table.” The statement also praised the local officials, such as Williams and Sen. Bill Stanley, for their support since day one.
Joseph Hylak-Reinholtz, chief operating officer for Foresight Health, said in the statement that the company had yet to develop a plan that makes sense both clinically and financially, and that it would continue to work with local officials to make something happen.
The statement drew confused responses from town and county officials. Simmons said he did not know what it meant, and that Foresight Health had told them that they were rethinking the whole project and probably would not move forward with it.
The future of the hospital remains in limbo
The conflicting statements from Foresight Health and the county officials have left the residents of Patrick County in limbo, unsure of whether they will ever have a local hospital again. The hospital is vital for the rural community, which faces long travel times and high costs to access health care elsewhere.
Foresight Health’s statement did not provide any timeline or details for its plans, and the company did not respond to requests for comment. The county officials said they would update the public as soon as they have more information.