Lakeland Community Hospital

Lakeland Community Hospital

It was a year of ups and downs for regional healthcare facilities, with a nearby hospital possibly on its last legs while Cullman’s hospital sees continued growth. 

Lakeland Community Hospital, located in Haleyville, announced in November that it would be shutting its doors for good, but there may still be some hope for the only hospital in Winston County. 

The 59-bed hospital cited plummeting reimbursements from the government and commercial insurers, with nearly $2 million loss, as the reason behind the potential closure.

The hospital’s closure has been delayed until at least January, as the city of Haleyville has made a late effort to keep the Lakeland open by implementing a one-cent sales tax last week, and a hospital management firm is working with the city and county to save the hospital.

If it does end up shutting its doors for good, Lakeland would be the eighth rural Alabama hospital to close in recent years. Its closure would leave Winston County residents with Cullman Regional and Walker Baptist Medical Center in Jasper as the nearest health care options. 

Lakeland Hospital may be struggling to stay afloat, but the future seems brighter in Cullman, as Cullman Regional continues to grow. 

In November, the hospital’s surging patient volume and revenue led Fitch Ratings to upgrade the hospital’s outlook from stable to positive while affirming its BBB- through the Health Care Authority of Cullman County. 

That report was based on the hospital’s continued strong operating profitability, with revenues growing 25 percent over the last four fiscal years and a 9.5 percent operating margin in 2017.

The hospital’s patient volume has grown by 23 percent, from 53,700 patient visits (in-patient and out-patient) in 2014 to 66,150, as of June 30, 2017.

To help manage the increasing number of patients, Cullman Regional is also continuing to expand its facilities, with two major capital projects currently underway. 

A $14 million 30-bed addition to its inpatient tower is aimed at addressing growing inpatient volumes, and an urgent care and outpatient imaging facility on the current hospital campus is being built with the goal of relieving emergency department overflow and improving margin on outpatient visits.

The tower expansion is scheduled to open in February, and the urgent care facility’s opening is set for April. 

“Cullman Regional’s Emergency Department continues to see a growing number of patients,” Hospital Board Chair Judy Butler-Patterson said in January. “We needed a solution that would reduce wait times for patients who need direct access to care. The new center will accomplish that task by being open during peak Emergency Department times so that non-emergency care can be taken care of more quickly. This combined with our 30-bed expansion should help solve those issues without having to expand the Emergency Department.”

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