OUR OPINION: Local hospital valuable asset to community

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Having a hospital like Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial is a tremendous boost for our community. Having leadership the caliber of those at the hospital is truly a blessing.

BWWMH has much going for it. For one, it has bucked a national trend complicating normal operations at thousands of hospitals &8212; a nursing shortage.

Long hours, difficult work and emotionally challenging situations often deter candidates. So does insufficient financial rewards. Add to that the difficulty rural hopsitals have luring people to small towns, and you get an idea of what hospitals face.

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But BWWMH has leaped these hurdles to arrive at a fully staffed nursing crew. This allows them to function at normal levels for all their shifts. That means the quality of care is at a high level.

The hospital&8217;s leadership also has illustrated their dedication to recruiting top surgeons, specialists and doctors.

Recent recruits are enjoying much success, and our area is the better for it.

In addition, we can be proud that our hospital is ably prepared to face difficult challenges, such as the recent downturn in patient volume.

Hospital Administrator Mike Marshall said that despite facing a loss of more than $320,000 in August, the hospital was not forced to dip into their reserves.

Marshall said their financial situation is still above most other hospitals in the state. His report revealed a 15-percent loss for many state hospitals. Compared to BWWMH&8217;s 11-percent loss, the news is good.

Health care costs continue to rise &8212; for hospitals, health-care providers and consumers. It is a problem that needs addressing, for sure.

At the same time, our area can feel fortunate for what they do have. This level of health care provider is a tremendous incentive for prospective businesses to locate here.

We&8217;re proud of both the progressive attitude of our hospital and its leaders and of the level of care BWWMH provides. We hope that their continued success will mean continued progress for Demopolis, Marengo County and West Alabama.