(MURFREESBORO), November 9, 2017 — State Representative Bryan Terry, MD (R-Murfreesboro) and administrative and operating room leaders from Ascension Health System hosted Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) for a tour of Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital yesterday.
The tour coincided with an announcement made by the Tennessee Health Services and Development Agency which paves the way for a $47 million investment related to expansion of the facility, as well as construction of a new surgical treatment center to be located on New Salem Highway.
As part of the project, St. Thomas Rutherford Hospital will add 72 new hospital beds — bringing its total to 385. Additionally, a new Clinical Decision Unit is planned near the current emergency room. When completed, it will provide an additional 25 beds for patients who require hospital stays of less than 24 hours. Construction has already begun and is expected to be completed by the summer of 2018.
“With the continued growth we are experiencing in Rutherford County and the increase in services provided by the hospital, I am pleased to see these critical upgrades made to our current health system,” said Representative Terry. “Additionally, I am grateful to Speaker Harwell for visiting with us and listening to the concerns and experiences of our physicians, nurses, and staff.”
The tour began with a visit to the perioperative area which includes a holding area, recovery room, as well as the main operating suite which houses 12 operating rooms. It included a stop in the emergency department, as well as the neonatal intensive care unit where Speaker Harwell listened intently to physicians and others about their experiences. Representative Terry — an anesthesiologist at the hospital and the Chairman of the House Health Subcommittee — believes the timing of the tour was excellent.
“Together, Speaker Harwell and I were able to better understand some of the challenges facing our thriving community which will enable us to potentially create new solutions to address some of these issues during the upcoming legislative session,” stated Terry.
“I would like to thank Representative Terry and the staff at Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital for providing an opportunity for me to see some of the remarkable progress this facility has made to accommodate the community’s astounding growth,” said Speaker Harwell. “It was also very powerful to hear firsthand experience from physicians, nurses, and staff related to the treatment of patients in acute or perioperative pain, as well as those facing opioid addiction.”
In recent years, Tennessee has experienced a startling increase in instances of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) related to the state’s continuing opioid crisis. NAS occurs when a baby is exposed to drugs in the womb before birth and can cause serious health issues. Approximately 90 percent of NAS pregnancies tend to be unplanned, and babies who are born with NAS usually require longer hospital stays at a cost of almost $48,000 in TennCare expenses in the first year of life.
“Since Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome is a major concern across our state, I appreciate the doctors, nurses, and staff who shared their valuable insight and experiences with me related to this troubling issue affecting some of our youngest citizens,” said Speaker Harwell. “Their powerful words and testimony will help all of us work to address a critical aspect of Tennessee’s opioid crisis.”
“The opioid issue is a concern in the medical community and at the Capitol. Being an anesthesiologist and a legislator, I am seeing its impact in both areas; finding solutions that protect legitimate patients while preventing the harm caused by abuses will require us to examine all options and work together as a legislative body in 2018 and in future years,” concluded Terry.
Bryan Terry, MD serves as Chairman of the House Health Subcommittee, as well as a member of the House Health and Civil Justice Committees. He lives in Murfreesboro and represents House District 48, which includes the eastern half of Rutherford County. Terry can be reached by calling (615) 741-2180 or emailing: Rep.Bryan.Terry@capitol.tn.gov.