CRENSHAW COUNTY, Ala. (WSFA) - Rural hospitals in Alabama and across the country are under more pressure than ever to remain open.
Crenshaw Community Hospital in Luverne is no exception, but hospital leaders have a plan to remain viable.
They hope a new campaign will lead to a “yes” vote by the people of Crenshaw County on Nov. 3.
“It’s a day-to-day struggle," said hospital CEO David Hughes.
Leaders hope residents will vote to raise the current property tax from 5 mils to 8 mils, such a move would generate close to $400,000 more per year to help fund the day-to-day operations.
“Property valued at $50,000, that will mean a $15 per year increase to you," said Crenshaw County Hospital Authority Chairman Andy Kimbro.
Cruise Sowell would likely pay $100 more per year on his business and home. He’s okay with paying more. He just wants to be assured the additional revenues will be wisely spent. In short, full transparency.
“Not as much as the amount of money as much as knowing where it’s going," said Sowell.
Hospital leaders admitted they may have an uphill climb in getting the message across. We’re in a pandemic; the economy is struggling and a presidential election is straight ahead.
“In my mind it has nothing to do with politics," Kimbro said.
Hospital leaders recognize their campaign may fail on Nov. 3. If that were to happen, the hospital won’t close, but the medical landscape here in Crenshaw County could change.
“What it is today probably can’t remain what it is," said Kimbro.
Leaders say if it passes, the additional millage will expire in five years. The hospital would begin receiving the additional funds generated from the added mileage in January 2022.
The hospital employs 190 people, has an annual economic impact of $23 million and there are 6,000 yearly visits to the emergency room.
Fourteen rural hospitals have closed in Alabama since 2011.