UAB Medicine gives rural hospital new life

UAB Medicine gives rural hospital new life
J. Paul Jones Hospital in Camden announced in August that it would be forced to close for financial reasons. The hospital now has new life after entering a management agreement with UAB Medicine. (Ethan Van Sice / Wilcox Progressive Era)

A rural Alabama hospital has been given new life after entering into a management agreement with UAB Medicine.

The 60-year-old J. Paul Jones Hospital in Camden announced in August that it would be forced to close later in the year because of rising costs and other financial reasons. Without a local hospital, Wilcox County residents would have to drive 45 minutes or longer to the next closest one in Selma, Greenville, Grove Hill or Monroeville.

Paul Jones kept operating until November, when its board of trustees announced talks with UAB Health System about a management agreement between the two entities.

“Small hospitals, in particular those in Alabama’s underserved, rural counties, are under tremendous financial pressure,” said Will Ferniany, Ph.D., CEO of the UAB Health System. “We believe it is part of the UAB Medicine mission to help provide assistance to hospitals throughout the state and to do what we can to ensure the survival of these rural hospitals.”

John Paul Jones Hospital has entered a management agreement to become a member of the UAB Health System. The Camden hospital joins two other rural Alabama hospitals with agreements with UAB – Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital in Demopolis and LV Stabler Memorial Hospital in Greenville.

“Joining hands with UAB can be the key strategic relationship that keeps John Paul Jones Hospital open and able to continue to serve this community,” said George Alford, chair of the hospital’s board. “This hospital has long been a mainstay and focal point of the region. We are proud that with this arrangement, we will be able to perpetuate J. Paul Jones Hospital’s outstanding legacy for many more years.”

Under the new relationship, UAB Medicine will provide managerial expertise and assist in supply chain logistics, revenue cycle management and compliance issues. UAB will also help with clinical resources such as assistance in physician recruiting and staffing.

“We are committed to helping rural hospitals in Alabama and the patients these hospitals serve,” Ferniany said. “Continued growth of the UAB Health System, collaboration with other health care providers and expansion of our clinical footprint will continue to enable us to be successful in our missions of patient care, medical education and research and our role in serving the citizens of Alabama.”

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