City of Opp underwrites bond to help hometown hospital - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

City of Opp underwrites bond to help hometown hospital

Posted by: Melissa Johnson - bio | email

Opp, AL (WSFA) - Hundreds of thousands of patients have been treated at Mizell Memorial Hospital since it opened in 1949. Now, the hospital faces an emergency of it's own.

With more than $4.5 million dollars in outstanding debts, the hospital's future is in jeopardy, but the city of Opp has voted to underwrite a $6.5 million dollar bond issue to help the hospital out of it's financial bind.

Mayor H.D. Edgar says, "I look at it this way, if we didn't have a hospital, what would we do?"

With the city's underwriting and it's good credit rating, Mizell can retire that debt at a lower cost and make much needed roof and building repairs.

"It's a vital part of our community, and we'll do whatever we have to sustain it," added Edgar.

In fact, the hospital is the city's largest employer with nearly 250 people working there, but city leaders say it's also crucial in recruiting new jobs.

Edgar said, "If we didn't have a hospital, it would be real hard for us to convince an industry to come in to Opp, Alabama to set up and hire people because we have no hospital for them."

Neal Presley, a lifelong Opp resident and local pharmacist says, if the hospital goes, so will other businesses-- like his own.

Presley said, "If you don't have a hospital, you're not going to have doctors.  And if you don't have doctors, you don't have prescriptions. So before long, it filters down, and it wouldn't just affect us but the nursing homes and the others things that feed off your doctors and your hospitals."

Even though the bond issue means the city will pay the debt if the hospital can't, city leaders say the benefits outweigh the risk.

"I'm glad we're in a position to help," Mayor Edgar said.  "To lose this industry would hurt us severely.  It's a win-win situation for both of us."

They're hoping to heal the hospital's financial wounds and keep a hometown health care facility going strong.

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