Woodland closing

Opaleine Harper wipes away tears as she gets ready to leave Woodland for the final time.

Opaleine Harper wiped away tears as she reminisced about her time at Woodland Medical Center, as she watched the hospital she has used for so many years come to an end.

“Am I going to miss them? Boy, I reckon so,” Harper said.

Harper took her final stroll down the halls of Woodland on Monday morning as she was discharged for the last time.

“It’s been a good story,” she said. “It’s just sad.”

Harper was the last patient to leave the empty halls of Woodland before its final closure tonight.

“We will lock up the doors for the last time tonight at midnight,” said Jessica Hurley, registered nurse.

“It’s like a family. It’s family oriented,” Harper said.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better last patient,” Hurley said, holding back tears.

Hurley has been working at Woodland for the past seven years and calls it her second home.

“This is like a family,” Hurley said. “It’s very sad. This is the only thing that’s kept me here (in Cullman). I’ve become real close with a lot of the doctors here.”

Cullman Regional Medical Center announced on June 1 the purchase and closure of the smaller hospital. Woodland’s emergency room closed two weeks ago, and since then the hospital has been phasing out all departments.

Dale Harper said he and his mother have used Woodland and will miss it.

“It was great,” Dale said. “I hate to see it close. I’m like all the rest of them, but it’s out of our hands.”

Dale said it is sad to not be able to have a choice of hospitals in Cullman County.

“We are left with no choice but CRMC,” he said.

As tears, hugs and goodbyes were said, Hurley pushed Harper’s wheelchair down the halls for the final time.

“It’s just been like a home to me,” Harper said. “Whatever they do with it, I want it to be beneficial to the community.”

Hurley will transfer to Parkway Medical Center in Decatur, which is owned by Capella Health Care, the company that owned Woodland before its sale to CRMC.

“I was lucky to find a job,” Hurley said.

Hurley did not want to see Woodland close, but she said it will eventually be a positive thing for the community.

“It’s really, really sad, but I think it’s good for the community in the long run,” Hurley said.

The last Woodland Hills patient was discharged as well on Monday morning, Woodland CEO Butch Naylor said in a press release.

“Woodland’s patient census is now zero,” Naylor said. “The Woodland hospital operations will officially cease at 12 a.m. on Wednesday, July 15. All remaining hospital operations are being consolidated to Cullman Regional Medical Center.”

CRMC officials have no plans for the Woodland facility at this time and have said they are exploring all options. CRMC has refused to release the terms of the Woodland acquisition because of a confidentiality agreement signed by both parties.



‰ Tiffany Green can be reached by e-mail at tgreen@cullmantimes.com or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 221.

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