Schools developing plan to cope with loss of hospital

Published 6:28 pm Thursday, November 1, 2012

“What we’ll see a change with is if the community does what we would ask them to do,” he said. “Instead of putting a family member in the car, that they dial 911 and get EMS on the scene and have them make a decision about what to do.”

Acker and Driver both acknowledged the inconvenience of driving farther to an out-of-town emergency room but said the level of care patients receive from the county’s first responders will not change.

“We’ve got a good first-responder system in Chilton County,” Acker said. “I’m concerned that the hospital is closed there, but I think the EMS system will stand itself up, and we’ll do the best we can do.”

Driver said his department intends to cope with the lack of a local hospital on a call-to-call basis.

“If it is a child, Children’s Hospital will take kids up to the age of 18,” Driver said. “If it’s severe enough that they need medical attention, then more than likely we will send them to Alabaster simply because they are closer to Children’s Hospital.”

The biggest problem, Driver said, is the travel time.

“We can do a lot, but we can’t do everything a doctor can do,” Driver said. “We’re still going to respond and treat the patients accordingly and provide the best level of care like we always have. We’re still going to send them to the hospital we feel they need to go to. We’re just going to have a longer transport time now.”

Hospital closing could also affect higher learning

With the closing of Chilton Medical Center, concerns of how to move forward with providing the county adequate healthcare, as well as training those prepping to be employed in the medical field, leave some questions unanswered.

Nursing instructor at Jefferson State Community College Chilton-Clanton Center Cindy Danley said news of the closure was a disappointment.

“I am just worried that those within the county are not going to be able to receive adequate healthcare,” Danley said. “It is a terrible thing for a county this size to lose our hospital.”

Although none of the 26 students enrolled in the nursing program were using CMC for clinicals this semester, Danley said the hospital had served as a wonderful tool for training her students in their first and second semesters for things like IV therapy and learning how to give patients a bath.

“Now as our program is expanding, we weren’t using CMC as much, but it was very nice for some of our students who live in this county who might have wanted to get a job.”

Danley said she was also working to be able to have students from the program in their last semester participate in a preceptorship, a period of practical experience and training with a nurse.

“The preceptorship really prepares the students for what they will face in the real world, and we were hoping to be able to have used CMC for that,” Danley said. “2013 would have been when we would have had our seniors ready to participate, but now they will have to travel to either Shelby Medical Center or Prattville Baptist.”

Danley said a class of 31 nursing students will start in January 2013 in addition to the 26 already enrolled, requiring adjustments from having a hospital miles from the college campus.

“I just hope something is worked out about the hospital,” Danley said. “It was very nice having CMC so close to us.”