Chilton County leaders have ditched the idea of reopening the currently closed Chilton Medical Center. Now, instead, they are focused on building a brand new hospital.
County commissioners and the hospital board plan to meet Tuesday about how to fund the new building. All the while the people of Chilton County are frustrated about the time it's taking to fix this problem.
"I thought there would be some way found to reopen it quicker," Tina Atchison said.
Atchison is a former employee of the hospital. She lost her job when it was closed seven months ago. The Clanton native says she has strong ties to the hospital.
"I was born here May 20, 1962. When I was sixteen my mother laid here before she died with cancer. When I got out of nursing school I came here. I told them years ago to get rid of me you had to drag me out or lock the doors and lock me out. They locked me out," Atchison said.
Since the closure the plan on what to do to bring a hospital back to Chilton County has changed. Originally commissioners and the hospital board hoped to get the building back up to code and reopen it. The County Commission approved nearly $1 million to help do that. But Commissioner Allen Caton says it soon became clear that wasn't the best option.
"It would cost $1 million to bring that hospital up to code and still wouldn't have a hospital that would meet needs. We would have to build a new hospital anyway so the best thing to do is take that money and put it toward a new hospital," Caton said.
Caton says the cost of a new hospital will be about $16 million. As county and hospital leaders meet about the proposal, people in the community say they are suffering. Many having to drive up to an hour for emergency care.
"I've heard about people that have died in route because it's too far," Atchison said.
Fed up after his brother-in-law faced a close call, Steve Harris started this Facebook page.
"I was just extremely frustrated that he didn't have a place to go and he very easily could have died," Harris said.
On the page county residents can share their stories. In one post a woman describes her fear after her granddaughter cut her hand and had to be driven to Alabaster for stitches.
"The people of this county deserve a place to be treated," Harris said.
Many of the former employees have found jobs at other medical facilities in and out of the county. Atchison says if and when the new hospital is opened she would like to come back.
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