Medical professionals look for a way to start a healthcare autho - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Medical professionals look for a way to start a healthcare authority

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People from around Jefferson County gathered to talk health care. It's been almost a year since Cooper Green was reduced from a hospital to a health clinic. Since then many are saying its simply not enough help for the indigent. The purpose of tonight's meeting with local, state and medical leaders - is to discuss the indigent care needs in the hopes of getting a vote for a health care authority back on the table. This is the fifth community forum -to discuss what doctors here are calling a 'healthcare crisis.'

Geraldine Hubbard lives on Birmingham's west side. 

"I go when I need to go sometimes," Hubbard said.

She says Cooper Green is the vital source for her family's health care.

"We need that," Hubbard said. "People are on fixed incomes like I am. I don't have any other insurance to go to but Cooper Green," 

Because of people like Geraldine, local leaders are holding forums. Tuesday night, Jefferson County medical professionals spoke at the Vestavia Hills Library.

"You're hearing it from the medical community and they're saying a healthcare authority is the best way to go," George Bowman, County Commissioner said. "The way healthcare has been managed has not worked. The way Jefferson County has tried to fix the problem with Cooper Green has not worked."

"There is a group of lost people who don't know which direction to go to get the best healthcare available for their condition," Rev. Ronnie Williams, Public Health Network said. "Again, motivated by do I pay the $35-$50 co-pay or do I just wait until I get sicker so I can become an emergency."

The panel says indigent care should be handled by a group of medical experts in a healthcare authority instead of by county leaders. When Cooper Green was reduced from a hospital to a clinic it left uncertainty for doctors. In fact, many of them have left.

"We need to do everything we can to bring it back to a full hospital," Willie Casey, who attended the meeting said.

"We know what we're doing right now isn't working and has failed," Bowman. "We need to do something differently."

Commissioner  Bowman says his plan is to present the findings from each of the five forums to the Jefferson County Commission hoping to restart the conversation to create a healthcare authority.


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