Decatur Morgan Hospital and the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce hosted their annual State of Healthcare Address at the hospital on Jan. 24.
Decatur Morgan Hospital officials announced a healthcare plan that took almost two years to develop.
The Huntsville Hospital Health System is investing $20 million in improvements to the 100-year-old Decatur Morgan Hospital. The move will add more private rooms, will upgrade the emergency room, renovate the lobby and integrate the MRI unit into the hospital.
“This is not our plan, but what the community told us they wanted,”Decatur Morgan Hospital President Nat Richardson told Decatur Dailey reporter Delangelo McDaniel.
Attendees included Morgan County Commission Chairman Ray Long, Morgan County Commissioner Randy Vest, Alabama state Rep. Terri Collins, Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling, Economic Developer Nicole Jones and numerous business and community leaders.
“Healthcare is critical to the quality of life component of economic development,” Nicole Jones, an economic developer, told the Alabama Political Reporter. “The Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce made the annual State of Healthcare Address even more insightful this year, complete with a Decatur Morgan Hospital tour and dialogue with hospital staff.”
“Near completion, the $50 million of renovations include an upgraded ER, a mental health unit within the ER, a breast center, an integrated MRI unit, more comfortable waiting areas, patient rooms, nurses stations and more,” Nicole Jones added. “Thank you to all who coordinated this firsthand look at the improvements aimed to increase efficiency and improve quality of life for residents of Morgan County.”
The chamber’s annual State of Healthcare Address included a new feature to the program: being onsite at Decatur Morgan Hospital, who served as the presenting sponsor for the event. More than 125 business, community and elected leaders from across Morgan County heard from Richardson about the positive financial status of the hospital, expanded services available to the community and the impact healthcare has on our quality of life.
The second half of the event provided attendees the opportunity to take guided, small group tours by hospital leadership to see renovations and updates including the new emergency department, new private rooms, the new MRI facility, new public waiting rooms and the renovated mammography center.
The strategic plan that outlined these changes was developed by community input and patient surveys with the goal of improving the patient experience. The availability of quality healthcare is a critical component in economic development, residential recruitment and a high standard of life in a community, and the Chamber is thankful for the leadership of the hospital and the Huntsville Hospital Health System for the long-term investment in Decatur-Morgan County.
Richardson presented the plan three times to the Huntsville Health Care Authority Board, which oversees the Huntsville Hospital System, before the board voted to give Decatur Morgan what Richardson called “an accelerated capital infusion” of $20 million.
Huntsville Hospital Chief Executive Officer David Spillers told reporters that it wasn’t a difficult decision to make the investment because the level of care patients receive at Decatur Morgan is as good as anywhere in the country.
Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce President and Chief Executive Officer John Seymour told attendees that the hospital is critical for the community and is a tool that the Chamber uses to promote the area to prospective new businesses and residents.
The $50 million renovation more than doubles the number of private rooms at the hospital to 100. The new MRI center will now actually be in the hospital. In the part, the MRI was in a modular building out back.
Richardson said that the growing number of uninsured patients that the hospital sees is a concern.
“The biggest trend we’ve seen is we have more people that are uninsured and we have to continue to take care of those individuals,” Richardson told WZDX TV’s Renata Di Gregorio. “It’s going to be important for our elected officials, for us to work with them, so that we can expand Medicaid. That would certainly insure more people.”
Richardson said the hospital is preparing for anticipated growth in the area due to the construction of the new Mazda-Toyota plant in nearby Limestone County. The emergency room saw 60,000 patients last year.
“All we need now is for patients to utilize this hospital and wonderful services that are available,” Richardson told the audience.
Original reporting by Decatur Dailey and WZDX TV contributed to this report.