Press Release from Tanner Health System’s Tony Montcalm Communications Manager
The ribbons have been cut and the facility has been showcased to the community, but Randolph County’s new hospital has one final hurdle before it can open the doors to serve patients: a license from the state.
The licensure process includes on-site inspections from the Alabama Department of Public Health, which is responsible for regulating healthcare facilities in the state. State officials also must review documentation and safety checks from the new facility.
“The state has an obligation to ensure that this facility is ready to provide care to the people of Alabama, and we respect their process,” said Jerry Morris, administrator for Tanner Medical Center/East Alabama. “We’re working with the state toward a shared objective in making absolutely certain that this hospital is ready to provide the best level of care possible to the people of this region.”
Between now and the issuance of a license from the state, Tanner officials are working with staff from the current Wedowee Hospital on training and implementing new protocols for the new facility. Staff is also conducting tests and conducting calibration work for the new equipment and technology in the hospital, including new diagnostic imaging equipment, laboratory analyzers and more.
According to Morris, Tanner received a certificate of occupancy on Sept. 22 for staff to begin working in the new facility.
“But before we can run one X-ray or start a single IV line in the new hospital, the state has to tell us it’s OK,” said Morris. “They’re going to be thorough, so when we open to patients, everyone can be sure that we’re ready to deliver high-quality health care.”
The licensure process can take six to eight weeks, Morris explained.
“We’ve been working with our staff to make sure all our documentation and applications are in order,” said Morris. “Healthcare facilities are among the most heavily regulated construction projects around, and rightfully so. So we’re going to be stringent to make sure we comply with the state.”
Tanner Medical Center/East Alabama is a more than 50,000-square-foot, three-story modern hospital facility built on the Tanner/East Alabama campus along South Main Street in Wedowee. The hospital will provide 24-hour emergency care, critical care support, inpatient and observation beds, rehabilitation services, a state-of-the-art surgical suite and advanced diagnostic imaging services.
The new hospital is built with local tax dollars from a special 1 percent sales tax approved by 86 percent of Randolph County voters in an August 2015 referendum. While almost $20 million in local tax dollars are tied to construction, Carrollton, Ga.-based Tanner Health System has contributed another $6 million to equip and furnish the facility, as well as to provide the technical infrastructure for a modern hospital facility. The health system will also manage the new hospital.
“This project is an investment in the region’s health on behalf of the community and on behalf of Tanner, and we’re all interested in seeing to it that the hospital open to provide care for patients as quickly as possible,” said Loy Howard, president and CEO of Tanner Health System. “We’ve built fantastic partnerships here in east Alabama, and we’re building solid relationships with individuals at the state level as well who understand the importance of bringing quality health care to this part of Alabama.”
Wedowee Hospital will remain open, with Tanner’s support, until Tanner Medical Center/East Alabama opens for patients in several weeks. Residents can follow updates on the process online and learn more about the new facility at www.tanner.org/eastalabama.