Grassroots effort underway to reopen Pickens County Medical Center
PICKENS CO., Ala, (WBRC) - A grassroots effort is underway right now in Pickens County to get the county’s only medical center back open. This comes two years after the hospital closed because funding dried up. The mayor of Carrolton is behind it all.
Mayor Mickey Walker is armed with a petition of nearly 3,000 signatures. The goal is get 5,000, and it appears he’s on his way.
Mayor Mickey Walker thumbs through what he hopes will be the magical pill to get the county’s only hospital re-opened, starting with the emergency room first. The mayor is looking to the Alabama legislature for help.
“I talked with some of the legislators and a bunch of COVID money is ‘fixin’ to be released and we want to at least get 5,000 signatures to present to the state finance committee,” he said.
The medical center is empty. No activity, closed about two years ago, eliminating well over 100 jobs. Jerica Jones says the hospital needs to reopen because people living in the area are having to get medical care either in Tuscaloosa or Columbus, Mississippi, a 45 minute drive in either way.
“I hope they get to do it because we need it. It’s not something we want. It’s something we need,” said Jones.
Mayor Walker estimates it would cost 12 million dollars just to reopen the ER, with the overriding goal of eventually reopening the entire medical complex. Pickens County has around 19,000 residents, far too many he says to be without a hospital. Walker believes he has the community support to make it happen.
“If you’re holding 5,000 people in Pickens County want this, that gives us a little power,” said Mayor Walker.
Donna Nance for one is convinced Pickens County can’t afford to go another day without hospital care.
“We’ve had episodes where we need doctors immediately,” said Nance.
Although the mayor wishes the medical center would reopen today, the more realistic goal is to get reopened by January of 2023.
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