The Board of Directors of the Health Care Authority of Elba, Alabama has announced that Elba General Hospital will close its Emergency Room and discontinue accepting new inpatients as of January 31, 2013. Officials say they're working with area hospitals to transfer any patients who will need continued hospitalization.
The Board is working on options to maintain local access to primary and urgent care, according to a release issued Tuesday afternoon.
"Acute hospital services are only one part of the services the Authority oversees for the community," Dr. Kenneth Strong, Board Chairman, explained. "We are also committed to working on behalf of the residents of the Wiregrass area to maintain primary care services locally. To that end, we are identifying other opportunities with area health clinics to ensure the availability of local urgent care to the residents of Elba."
The Nursing Home affiliated with Elba General Hospital will remain open, and the Board is in active discussions with potential buyers who are interested in operating the Nursing Home moving forward.
"I am deeply saddened at the actions of discontinuing the emergency room and other services of the hospital had to be taken as it affects the lives of all our citizens," said Elba Mayor Mickey Murdock. "It is especially troubling to know that some long-term employees who have dedicated a major portion of their lives to serving their fellow citizens and who made gallant efforts to keep the operations going will need to seek employment elsewhere. It breaks my heart and makes for sleepless nights."
Mayor Murdock said he was "encouraged that the Nursing Home is ongoing and that Dr. Koch will continue to serve our community. I am aware that the Hospital Authority is still pursuing other options for medical care in Elba and am optimistic that it can be obtained. I am praying for an option to materialize and hope the community will join me in praying for a good outcome."
"Elba General has provided healthcare to the residents of the Wiregrass area for 60 years. But in recent years, we've struggled to maintain our patient base," explained Elba General Hospital CEO Mike Dooley. "Patients often choose other hospitals for their care because Elba General does not offer surgical services. As a result it is not financially possible to sustain inpatient acute care services here without surgical or other specialty services."
The hospital closure will result in the loss of jobs. The Board is contacting other healthcare providers in neighboring communities to make them aware of the changes at Elba General and to encourage them to consider Elba employees for any new or open positions.
INFORMATION SOURCE: Statement issued by CEO Mike Dooley
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