So you know that rural hospital closure problem we’ve been talking about? Well, there’s good news on that front, at least for Franklin County.

We wrote this summer about two medical giants vying to reopen part of Franklin Medical Center, which closed last year, and it looks like the race is won: Duke LifePoint got the contract.

Reopening the center is a really important step, a tangible way to address the profound healthcare shortages in parts of North Carolina. It was the only hospital in Franklin County. Without it, EMS is forced to take patients to hospitals in neighboring counties, like Wake, which means it can take hours for a 911 call to turn into actual treatment — hours that patients may not have.

It looks like Duke LifePoint is well aware of those emergency problems; they say a primary goal is to have an emergency department up and running within the year, as well as adding behavioral health beds. All this should start as soon as renovations to the existing buildings are completed. You know how that goes...but everyone involved seems to agree that the hospital should open back up as quickly as possible.

Read more about the new hospital.

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