Local Hospital Finding Ways to Stay Open

Some Alabama hospitals are struggling as a result of our sluggish economy. With higher volume, more uninsured and under insured patients, many are trying to keep from closing their doors for good.

Dale County Medical Center continues to see patients walk through its doors, but the amount of people coming in and the money for the services are not adding up.

Dale Medical Center, CEO, Vernon Johnson said, "We are seeing a decline in admissions, an increase in uninsured and under insured patients utilizing our services and we're also facing with a declining reimbursement."

Johnson says like many hospitals nationwide, dale medical is struggling to stay afloat.

Just this past August, the hospital lost its Obstetric Department and has seen a 15-percent decrease in emergency room visits.

Not only are that, more patients defaulting on payments.

"Unfortunately, when people have to make a choice of buying food and gas or pay thief medical bills we get to the bottom of the pole," said Johnson

The beginning of a new year could cause more problems for the hospital with a cut in Medicaid.

"If the proposed Medicaid cuts go through that we have seen that were presented to us a couple of months ago, it will be a significant amount of money from this hospital's budget, and it could have a devastating effect on the hospital."

Naomi Youngblood, who comes to the hospital for her family doctor, says the outcome would cause problems for many.

"I think it will hurt a lot of people because there are elderly people, you know, or people with serious problems that probably come here, it's real convenient for them so I think that it will hurt a lot of people."

This problem is not just hurting smaller hospitals. The Physicians Medical Center Carraway in Birmingham closed in October after 100 years of business. Many struggling hospitals will have to just wait and see what might happen.

Dale Medical Center has not had to borrow money or lay off employees. Fortunately, they have a general fund they can tap into for tough times.


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