Pickens County’s only hospital in danger of closing

Special Reports

CARROLLTON, Ala. (WIAT) — A West Alabama hospital is in danger of closing its doors.  For many years the Pickens County Medical Center has struggled to make ends meet. Buddy Kirk and his family are hoping the rural community hospital will stay open. He and his wife are senior citizens
who depend the medical services the medical center provides.

“I’ve been to the emergency room a few times in the last two or three years.  My wife has too, and
luckily we haven’t had to be admitted. But we’ve had excellent care from the emergency room,” Kirk said.

Shawn McDaniel, the hospital board chairman, says they don’t have enough patients or doctors.

“At this point the hospital is financially struggling. At one time we had nine primary attending physcians in the county, and now we only have four. And so with the lack of doctors, it’s a lack of patients that are getting the chance to be seen everyday, and that creates a problem” McDaniel said.

The Pickens County Medical Center opened in 1979 and used to employ 156 workers. But that number has dropped to 118, and the hospital has 56 beds. Carrollton Mayor Mickey Walker says if the facility closes it could seriously hurt the town’s economy.
“The impact on our town is we only have like 900 people in Carrollton.  And probably 50% of the employees up there live local right here in Pickens County.  This would hurt our economy.  We can’t have it happen,” Walker said.

Buddy Kirk is trying to be optimistic, but he says the hospital’s future is in doubt.

“It would be an absolute disaster if Pickens County Medical Center would close, not only for healthcare but for the economy. It’s one of the best rural hospitals in the state”.

Board chairman Shawn McDaniel tells CBS 42 he isn’t sure what the future holds for the hospital.  He says the board is trying to do what it can to keep the doors open.

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