The South Carolina Hospital Wing has been converted into a new inmate hospital

A wing of an abandoned rural hospital in South Carolina’s Chester County has been converted into an inmate health center that could begin admitting patients before the end of the year.

The State Department of Corrections’ $3.3 million project in recent years has reinforced the new wing with prison bars, high-security doors and cameras throughout the building. The move gives the state Department of Corrections a medical resource while also preventing a community hospital from disappearing.

Formerly known as the Chester County Hospital, the hospital provided care to the community for decades. But like many small city hospitals, it was facing bankruptcy due to a lack of staff and patients.

In 2019, the Medical University of South Carolina purchased the facility and renamed it MUSC Health Chester Medical Center. To keep it alive, the hospital and local and state leaders struck a deal to use the hospital’s empty beds to treat inmates from all over South Carolina, The Post and Courier reported.

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The deal was led by Bryan Stirling, Director of the South Carolina Department of Corrections, in conjunction with MUSC Health Chief Executive Officer Patrick Cawley,

Cawley, in turn, hopes for providing medical care to the prisoners that the hospital will attract more doctors and eventually generate revenue for the city of Chester.

“Because we have more patients, we can recruit more doctors and nurses,” Cawley said.

An abandoned hospital wing in South Carolina has been converted into a health center for inmates. The $3.3 million project is expected to begin accepting patients before the end of 2022.

The Department of Corrections expects the hospital to provide care for 36 inmates, Shain said, with 33 beds available for acute care and three for intensive care.

“It should open before the end of the year, but we don’t have a specific date yet,” Shain said of when the hospital will start accepting patients.

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Cawley said he expects the inmate program to “stabilize” Chester by attracting more medical staff who will invest in the community.

“Truly, for the community, I think it’s vital to preserve our hospital,” said Daniel R. Crow, an emergency room physician at Chester Hospital. “It’s going to make us financially viable for years to come.”

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