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City, County Moving Ahead With Behavioral Health & Urgent Care Facility Next to Safety Complex 
It'll be a few years before it's designed and developed, but local officials are excited that a part of the former St. Mary's Hospital campus will continue to be devoted to providing specialized medical treatment.

Last month, City Council - on Mayor Indya Kincannon's recommendation - voted to approve an interlocal agreement with Knox County to turn the 25,000-square-foot former St. Mary's Ambulatory Surgery Center at the corner of East Woodland Avenue and St. Mary Street into an urgent care and behavioral health facility.

1515 St. Mary Street

This building, at 1515 St. Mary St., will be jointly owned by the City and County, who will contract with medical service providers, such as the McNabb Center.

Check out this video, in which McNabb Center CEO Jerry Vagnier explains why the behavioral health portion of the facility is needed:

Vagnier says the psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, therapists and others on staff would be able to offer care after hours - helping people when they need the help, without requiring next-day visits or appointments.

More than 8,500 people in the metro area last year wound up going to a hospital emergency room for lack of another option, Vagnier says.

Mayor Kincannon applauds the pending creation of the behavioral-health facility, as well as a new North Knoxville urgent-care center, where people can get treatment for bodily injuries, like sprained ankles or broken bones.

"It was important to many community neighbors and to members of the Diocese of Knoxville that St. Mary's legacy as a care provider continue at this historic place," Mayor Kincannon says.

"So we looked, with our partners in the community and with Knox County government, at where the need was the greatest. One resource that was in especially short supply was urgent care for people in crisis with behavioral-health issues. The City is pleased to be building capacity for this specialized care.

"We're also very proud of the community unity in moving forward with this. Knox County is an enthusiastic supporter and recognizes the acute need for a facility like this."

Tennova deeded the mostly vacant hospital campus to the City for $1, and City contractor crews for more than a year have been repurposing the site for use as a Public Safety Complex, which will house Police, Fire administrative, Pension System and City Court operations. The reconstruction project is expected to be completed in about a year.

But the 1515 St. Mary Street building remained under lease to a private company through 2049, and the company had the right to renew the lease through 2099.

In June, City Council voted to approve a sale and ground lease termination agreement to buy out the lease for almost $1.8 million. The City and County are splitting the buyout cost.

The urgent care facility won't be the only reminder of St. Mary's long legacy as an iconic hospital that faithfully served generations of families.

The stately and spectacular 1929 Building, the original marble-accented hospital building, has been carefully preserved and protected by the City and its contractors. It will be repurposed as an anchor when the north end of the former hospital campus is privately redeveloped.

And nursing education had been at the core of St. Mary's mission since the hospital opened. So it was fitting that Lincoln Memorial University in early 2021 began offering nursing programs in Magdalen Clarke Tower, the tallest building on the site.

Posted by evreeland On 23 November, 2021 at 12:05 PM