After TV factory layoffs, community prepares for next gut punch

After TV factory layoffs, community prepares for next gut punch
Published: Aug. 10, 2018 at 12:26 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 10, 2018 at 9:06 AM EDT
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FAIRFIELD COUNTY, SC (WIS) - To Reverend Jerome Boyd, Winnsboro is more than home. It's a way of life.

"It's close-knit," Boyd said. "It's a family community."

However, for now, that way of life seems to be under attack by factors beyond his control.

"We're maybe a little bit depressed right now," he said when asked about the town's overall mood.

In just the past few years, Walmart closed, V.C. Summer's nuclear expansion failed, a textile mill shuttered, and, earlier this week, a TV plant announced 126 layoffs because of tariffs.

But there's something else—just beyond the horizon—that also has him worried:  the county's hospital, Fairfield Memorial.

"Having that hospital here lends to the stability of this neighborhood," Boyd said.

But, Fairfield Memorial is expected to close in December, which means Boyd and others will have to make the drive to Columbia for most healthcare services that aren't emergencies.

"When Fairfield Memorial closes, they've got just under a hundred employees right now—a hundred folks who were working there who were, you know, making money and taking it home and feed their family and paying mortgages and buying cars," said Fairfield County Council Chairman Billy Smith.

Smith said the county helped fund the hospital for decades, but now, it's beyond saving. However, Wednesday night, in a special called meeting, the council did agree to buy some of the hospital to keep the lights on for some of the private physicians who have office space on site.

"We're just trying to do everything we can to help the local community and help the local economy," Smith added.

Smith pointed out that Providence Northeast is building an emergency care center in town, but he says he has lost sleep over what the death of the hospital might mean.

"Pray, Fairfield. That's all I can say," said Reverend Boyd, who added that the best medicine is positivity. "We just can't sit down and give up and throw up our hands and put up a for sale sign. That's not going to help us."

Fairfield Memorial's CEO said there will be some upcoming job fairs to help employees here transition to jobs at the emergency care center, which should employ around 45 people.

The CEO also said the hospital won't close until the new emergency center opens, which again, will likely be in December.

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