The goal of a unified health-care system in Morgan County will take a step forward Wednesday, when Decatur-Morgan Hospital moves its pediatrics department and labor and delivery unit from Parkway to Decatur General.
The move will save about $100,000 annually in operating expenses and allow the hospital to provide better services because it can focus on investing in one unit, hospital President Dean Griffin said.
Morgan County has about 900 births annually, “something we can handle at one hospital,” Griffin said.
Decatur General, which is licensed for 273 beds, has more capacity than Parkway, a 120-bed hospital.
Griffin said Decatur General has 10 pediatric beds in the Women’s Center, but added that children can be admitted at Parkway if space is needed.
Decatur General had 264 pediatric admissions this year, while Parkway’s admissions totaled 235.
None of the 30 to 35 employees who work in pediatrics or labor and delivery at both sites will lose their jobs, and doctors will have operating privileges at both hospitals, Griffin said.
Hospital officials have not decided what they will do with the labor and delivery wing at Parkway. The hospital on Beltline Road Southwest will continue to operate its emergency room and admit patients.
In another health-care development, Griffin said he is talking to Hartselle Mayor Don Hall and “other people in the community” about using part of the former Hartselle Medical Center facility “for something like an urgent care.”
He said there are no plans to reopen the 120-bed hospital as an inpatient facility.
“I’m not going to say never to this, but this is not part of the conversation,” he said.
Investor-owned Capella Healthcare of Franklin, Tenn., closed Hartselle Medical Center in October 2011 and sold its assets to Huntsville Hospital for $1.5 million in January 2012.
Hall said he would like to see a 24-hour emergency room at the facility.
“Hartselle needs an emergency center that can stabilize and evaluate patients before deciding where they need to be transported to,” the mayor said.
To help offset the cost of reopening the facility, Hall said, city officials will try to lure companies to rent parts of the hospital that will not be used for medical purposes.
He said he plans to meet with Morgan County Economic Development Association President Jeremy Nails about which companies might be interested in the site.
“We’re going to pursue everything,” he said.
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