(WBIR-Knoxville) A group of East Tennessee residents are ramping up their efforts to protest against plans for a new hospital.

Friends of Middlebrook spent a couple hours Thursday afternoon picketing at the intersection of Middlebrook Pike and Vanosdale Road. The group is protesting Tennova's plans to replace the former St. Mary's Hospital with a new hospital located on Middlebrook Pike.

The protestors say Tennova's plans would create an unbalanced health care system in Knoxville.

"Taking the major hospital outside of the north side of downtown would devastate that community, set it back several decades and would not advance West Knoxville at all. In fact, if you talk to West Knoxville residents out here, they don't want it," said protestor Dana Fox.

Friends of Middlebrook Pike say the new hospital would also increase traffic congestion on Middlebrook Pike, and diminish property values for nearby homes.

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