Hope abounds over future of L&D

Published 7:24 pm Friday, May 20, 2011

Optimism that was hard to find less than 90 days ago is growing plentiful in the labor and delivery unit at the Demopolis hospital.

Fifteen days ago, Hospital Board Member Jay Shows presented a plan to a hospital committee that called for upwards of $100,000 of buy in from the city council, the county commission, the hospital and the doctors who use the facility.

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Shows said, if the hospital board could get that kind of financial commitment from the parties involved, an operating loss of more than $600,000 would be cut to approximately $200,000. The difference, Shows said, the hospital would likely be willing to absorb in order to keep the unit open while other cost saving measures take effect over the coming year.

With two weeks to digest the proposal, the response was favorable Friday.

“The council is supportive,” Demopolis Mayor Mike Grayson said, adding discussion of the matter would likely be added to the agenda of the city’s June council meeting. “To the man, (the council members) recognize how important the labor and delivery unit is to the city and the county.”

Marengo County Commissioner Ken Tucker said the commission was also supportive of the idea and is likely to begin formal discussion of aiding the hospital at its meeting next month.

“It’s a temporary solution but it gives us, at a minimum, one year to make L&D viable while the hospital works through its expense reduction plan and finds a permanent, long-term solution,” Tucker said.

In March, the Bryan W. Whitfield Hospital Board voted to shutter its labor and deliver department as part of a $3.2 million expense reduction plan that also called for personnel layoffs and other items.

Both Grayson and Tucker said it was important to recognize the level of commitment and teamwork between three drastically different entities – the hospital board, two governmental bodies and the doctors – in the quest to keep labor and delivery open while ensuring the hospital remains financially viable.

“Everyone has taken a stake in the problem and in the solution,” Grayson said.