RMC move months away

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By Cheryl Duncan, Assistant Editor

Roane Medical Center’s days in downtown Harriman appear to be numbered.

Covenant Health is about 16-17 months from moving the Harriman-based hospital to a new, state-of-the-art facility in Midtown, said Harriman Mayor Chris Mason.

The new facility was announced in March 2008, when Covenant and Harriman officials worked out  arrangements for the company’s acquisition of the then city-owned and -operated hospital.

Mason said last week the move is “a little bit early, according to our contract.”

Covenant Health purchased property fronting Hwy. 70 within Harriman’s city limits in Midtown shortly after acquiring the hospital. Company officials reconfirmed a $50 million commitment toward the project in Covenant’s recent report to the communities it serves.

Mason said the company is presently in negotiations to secure an adjoining property to the Midtown site.

“They were trying to acquire that property so they wouldn’t have to move dirt offsite,” the mayor explained at a Harriman City Council meeting last week.

The community has been abuzz about Roane Medical Center’s pending move. Harriman officials have reorganized the city’s industrial development board in hopes of attracting developers to the downtown area.

Area residents and officials are also hopeful the new hospital will give an economic boost to the area by bringing restaurants, retailers and new medical offices to the surrounding area.

Neighboring Lenoir City is experiencing such a surge in the wake of Covenant’s construction and opening of the new Fort Loudoun Regional Medical Center on Hwy. 321.