Rural hospital struggles force layoffs/furloughs at Pickens Co. - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Rural hospital struggles force layoffs/furloughs at Pickens Co. Medical Center

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Pickens County Medical Center. (abc3340.com) Pickens County Medical Center. (abc3340.com)
Carrollton-AL -     In West Alabama, reduced funding and tougher admissions is causing pain for rural hospitals.  Pickens County Medical Center has laid off 14 workers and furloughed 13 managers.  "Some came from nursing.  Some came from the ancillary services such as radiology and some came from over head departments, " said PMC director Wayne McElroy.

    He says the layoffs and furloughs were a last resort.  McElroy cites a reduction in medicaid and medicare funding since the state decided not to expand those under the Affordable Healthcare Act.  He also says admitting a patient into the hospital is tougher.  "The most impacted are those that are most in need in our community," he says.

    Barbara McDonald and her husband would fall into that category.  "We have to have it [hospital] because I have to have a lot of blood tests done," say McDonald.  The nearest hospital would be 45 miles in any direction.

    Pickens County Medical Center says the layoffs will save the hospital about $855,000 dollars a year.  It's in good condition right now, but the hospital is seeing a 35-percent drop in admissions.  The intensive care unit has shut down.

    Still, McDavid says the hospital has excellent medical services that people should take advantage of.  "I think they should because this hospital is a good hospital.  They have good doctors and nurses and they get to you as fast as they can."
 
    Hospital officials believe Pickens County Medical Center will survive.  But, they do need more patients to utilize the hospital. 
"We're going to have to use the healthcare services that we have in this community or we're going to lose those services," said Director McElroy.

   Pickens County commissioners will meet in the coming weeks to discuss how it can help sustain hospital services.  There's a similar situation in Fayette.  There have not been any hospital layoffs there, yet...but, city council will meet June 10th as a proactive step.
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