CARROLLTON, Ala. (AP/WTVA) — Pickens County Medical Center, located in rural west Alabama near the Mississippi line, will become the latest state hospital to shut down when it closes for good on Friday, news outlets reported.
The Pickens County Health Care Authority announced the shutdown in a news release that said the hospital's finances were no longer sustainable. It cited too few patients, reduced federal funding, and large numbers of uninsured patients.
The shutdown of the hospital, which opened in 1979, will be a twofold blow since residents will lose both their closest option for health care and jobs. About 200 people work at the hospital, making it one of Pickens County's largest employers, according to its website.
The shutdown is only the latest in a wave of hospital closings nationwide. The Alabama Hospital Association said 17 privately run hospitals have closed in the state over the last decade, and only one of those reopened.
Carrollton is located about 90 miles (145 kilometers) west of Birmingham. The city of roughly 1,000 people is about halfway between Tuscaloosa and Columbus, Mississippi, which both have hospitals. Pickens County has a population of about 20,200.
“We are working with state and federal regulators on our closure plan and will coordinate with other medical providers to assist our patients with a smooth transition," the hospital stated in a news release. "Existing hospital patients will be either discharged or transferred no later than March 6th.”
According to the hospital’s website, it is one of the largest employers in the county with approximately 200 employees.
Willie Colvin has worked there for 43 years. He said employees learned of the shutdown Monday morning. Another employee, Teresa Jones, lives five minutes from the hospital and planned to stay there until retirement.
WTVA reporter Amanda Haley spoke with several residents who were surprised by the news. Without the hospital, residents will have to travel to Columbus, Mississippi, or Tuscaloosa.