South Alabama hospital celebrates milestone

Mizell Memorial Hospital celebrates 70 years

OPP, Ala. (WSFA) - What a road it’s been for Mizell Memorial Hospital, “and there are so many people to thank,” said COO Barbara Sexton.

It was 70 years ago Friday that locals formally dedicated the hospital, lighting the way for thousands to be treated, cured, deliver babies and provide comfort to those who had a loved one pass away.

“Well, it is significant,” said James Kelsoe, who, on that day in December 1949, was all of 14 years old. He played the trumpet in the school band, which was part of the dedication ceremony.

“This community was united in its efforts towards that," said Kelsoe.

Mayor Becky Bracke pointed out Mizell has always provided a healthy dose of economic activity.

“As far as economic impact goes, it employs more than 200 people and sees around 1,000 patients per month in the emergency room," said Bracke.

Named after Charles Wesley Mizell, Mizell Memorial started out as a 29-bed facility but steadily grew over the years. A $2 million renovation in 1969 included growing vertically to three stories. Today, Mizell is licensed for 99 beds.

Retired physician Dr. Richard Spurlin once delivered three sets of twins in just one day, a local record that still stands.

“The time before that, I delivered 3,200 babies," said Spurlin.

Reaching 70 is big for Mizell. 11 hospitals in Alabama have closed since 2011 and one recent survey showed more than 80 percent of Alabama hospitals are losing money.

Almost two years ago, the city of Opp raised the sales tax by a penny to help fund the Mizell Memorial Hospital. The tax generates around $600,000 a year.

'"We are not paid fairly according to others, and you know that’s being taken note of on the federal level," said Mizell Memorial Hospital CEO/CFO Jana Wyatt.

Hospital leaders say they feel good about the future. They’re cautiously optimistic. In their minds, here’s to another 70 years.

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