Pineville Community Health Center gets the first loan from a new program to help Kentucky’s struggling rural hospitals

Pineville Community Health Center (Photo from Pineville Sun-Cumberland Courier)

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

Pineville Community Health Center Inc. is the first health facility in Kentucky to be approved for a loan from the Kentucky Rural Hospital Loan Program.

“I want to congratulate the leadership at the Pineville Community Health Center on this loan approval and thank them for having the foresight to quickly capitalize on this new opportunity to benefit residents in Eastern Kentucky,” Gov. Andy Beshear said in a news release.

The $1 million loan at 1% interest over a five-year term was approved by the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority, and was provided to help with operating expenses, says the release.

The Kentucky Rural Hospital Loan Program was established during the 2020 legislative session, but was not funded. Funding for the program was approved during the 2021 session. An analysis released early this year by the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform found that 16 of the state’s 69 rural hospitals are at risk of closing.
At a news conference, Beshear praised Rep. Danny Bentley, R-Russell, who sponsored the legislation to create the loan program and encouraged other eligible hospitals to apply for the program. The Pineville facility was long called Pineville Community Hospital, then briefly Southeastern Kentucky Medical Center, and became Pineville Community Health Center as it went through bankruptcy in 2018-19.
Slide from Gov. Andy Beshear’s press conference

The $20 million program, which started in September, provides struggling rural hospitals with low-interest loans of $25,000 to $1 million. The loans are available in counties with fewer than 50,000 people and can be used to maintain or increase staff, to maintain or upgrade their facilities or to provide more services.

“The only way to achieve our goal of ensuring a brighter future for every Kentuckian is to make sure every Kentuckian has access to quality and affordable health care,” Beshear said at the news conference. “This program is a major step towards achieving that goal.”
HD Cannington, interim chief executive officer of Pineville Community Health Center, said the funds will be used to reopen its intensive-care unit, which will allow critical-care patients get care closer to home.
In 2019, a Tennessee-based bank bought the hospital and changed its name. In August 2020, the Pineville Community Health Center Association, a non-profit organization formed by the hospital board, took over complete ownership of the hospital and its property, the Pineville Sun-Couriereports.
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