LOUISBURG, North Carolina (WTVD) -- The Franklin County Board of Commissioners and Maria Parham Health, which is part of Duke LifePoint Healthcare, announced Monday that they have agreed to move forward with a lease agreement for Maria Parham to reopen Franklin Medical Center in Louisburg.
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The agreement is a major step toward restoring local healthcare services in Franklin County. The hospital was closed down in 2015.
"We are delighted to have reached this agreement with Maria Parham and very pleased that initiatives to bring healthcare back to Franklin County can move ahead," said C. Boyd Sturges, III, Franklin County's Attorney and member of the Louisburg Town Council.
"This community has been without access to local care for too long," said Sidney E. Dunston, Franklin County Commissioner and Chairman of the Commissioner's Hospital Committee. " Maria Parham has exciting plans for the Franklin Medical Center site, and we look forward to working with its team to relaunch crucial medical services here and advance efforts to ensure the health of everyone who lives in this region."
In 2016, the board of commissioners reviewed potential strategic partners interested in taking over services at the shuttered Franklin Medical Center.
In October, the board unanimously voted to accept a proposal from Duke LifePoint that involved operating Franklin Medical Center as part of Duke LifePoint's Henderson hospital, Maria Parham Health, and turning the Franklin County facility into a freestanding emergency department with 24/7 emergency care, diagnostic services and behavioral health services.
"We are pleased by the bi-partisan cooperation of this endeavor," said NC Sen. Chad Barefoot. "The entire Franklin County family and Town of Louisburg, as well as our colleagues at Maria Parham and Duke LifePoint, have worked together to make this possible."
The Franklin emergency department is expected to open in mid- to late 2018, following renovations and hiring.
"Our team is excited to become part of the Franklin County community and partner with the people here to bring needed quality care close to home as well as encourage new job growth and economic development," said Bert Beard, CEO of Maria Parham Health. "We will begin by re-launching emergency services so those in need of immediate care do not have to risk traveling long distances. Then, we will focus on better serving the behavioral health needs in the community, which we know is needed."
Duke Primary Care also plans to establish a primary care practice in Louisburg and Duke Raleigh Hospital has plans to establish an ambulatory surgery center in Youngsville.
Re-establishing healthcare services at Franklin Medical Center is expected to bring a minimum of 65 new jobs to Franklin County in the coming years.
Deal reached to reopen Franklin Medical Center