PRESS RELEASE FROM: GEORGE ALFORD, CHAIRMAN, J. PAUL JONES HOSPITAL BOARD
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the citizens of Wilcox county and the surrounding area for their long-time support of J. Paul Jones Hospital, in Camden. Our hospital has saved many lives, as well as brought many lives into this world, in this area.
Unfortunately, it is my sad duty to inform you that after sixty (60) years J. Paul Jones Hospital is closing as an acute care hospital. We have been struggling to meet financial obligations, debt service and high operating cost, due to reimbursement rates of insurance, etc.
Some people will say the hospital was managed poorly but, let me tell you, that is just not true. We have, and continue to have, a great group of employees. They have stuck with this hospital when most would have left for a more secure job, but these employees have stayed here to serve this community and I would like to thank them from the bottom of my heart.
Wilcox County has a poverty rate of approximately 40%, unemployment rate of 13.0%, the highest in Alabama, and a declining population of less than 12,000; all of which make it nearly impossible for our small rural hospital to survive as it currently operates. An example of this and the low reimbursement rates we face is, between October 1, 2016 and May 31, 2017 J. Paul Jones Hospital had $3,880,000.00 in charges through the Emergency Room alone. We were reimbursed a total of $850,000.00 or approximately 22% of the charges. Of this total, $1,300,000.00 was Medicaid charges, and of these we were reimbursed only $129,000.00, or about 10%. If you have an item for sale in a retail situation that cost you $50.00 and you are required to sell it for $5.00-$10.00, you wouldn’t be in business very long. I believe these figures speak for themselves.
Because of the above-mentioned issues, we are beginning to transition from an acute care hospital to an urgent care facility. We are also planning to continue operating the ambulance service. It is our hope that a number of current hospital employees will be employed by the new urgent care facility. We are currently working on plans to operate the urgent care facility as soon as possible, so as not to be without medical care in the county. We are attempting to provide the best and most appropriate level of healthcare as possible for the citizens of Wilcox County, with the resources available to us.
Again, thank you for your past support and I urge you to please support the new urgent care operation.