Lakeland Community Hospital is an Alabama Bright Light with five stars

Lakeland Community Hospital is an Alabama Bright Light with five stars
Lakeland Community Hospital has rebounded from the brink of closure three years ago to providing award-winning services to its community in Haleyville. (contributed)

Ashley Pool, chief executive officer at Lakeland Community Hospital in Haleyville, is proud in a humble way.

She has the right to be. Lakeland Community Hospital is one of only five hospitals in Alabama that has received a five-star rating from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The federal agency’s rating considers things like mortality, safety of care, readmission, patient experience, effectiveness of care, timeliness of care and medical imaging.

“Our mission is to provide exceptional care for our community and to be a place where our employees feel proud to work,” Pool said. “We are a 49-bed rural hospital, and we see it all, from minor injuries to long-term issues.”

Pool climbed the ranks after spending 16 years as a nurse practitioner, then getting her management degree in 2014. When she heard about the chief operating officer position being open at Lakeland Community Hospital, she knew her dreams of serving in rural Alabama would come true. She joined the hospital in September 2018 and became its CEO in February.

Lakeland Community Hospital is an Alabama Bright Light providing rural health care from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Pool depends on support for the hospital from people and corporations, as well as from the Alabama Power Foundation and the Alabama Business Charitable Trust Fund.

Melinda Weaver is Community Relations manager for Alabama Power in Haleyville. She served with Pool on the board of the Haleyville Area Chamber of Commerce.

“Ashley quickly became part of the community,” Weaver said. “She took part in the Haleyville/Winston Leadership program that I am involved with. She graciously planned one of our leadership programs at Lakeland Community Hospital, where we were scheduled to tour the facility and learn about various departments. I invited APCo Marketing Specialist DeWayne Jenkins to join us for the meeting and tour, and he saw an opportunity for the Efficiency Forward grant” from the ABC Trust.”

Ashley Pool is CEO of Lakeland Community Hospital. (contributed)

In addition to financial grants for the hospital, the foundation helped in other ways.

“The Alabama Power Foundation donated funds to secure and plant this beautiful Christmas tree. We loved it so much and it became a wonderful part of our story,” Pool said.

Pool continues to manage the hospital amid the pandemic, which has affected the policies of all hospitals.

“COVID-19 has really changed the way we look at isolation during a global pandemic. We have lowered our nurse-to-patient ratio and have done several other adjustments,” Poole said. “The health crisis has required a lot of quick planning and, of course, a no-visitor policy. And it really changed our culture. We were a lively little place, and now it’s quiet with the social distancing and all.”

In addition to many of its offerings, Lakeland has the latest in medical technology, like digital mammography and inpatient medical detox services. In 2019, Lakeland was designated as an Alabama Stroke Center by the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Pool revels in those achievements. “I am the most blessed person in hospital administration in the country. I come to work every day with this incredibly powerful and passionate team. We are all in this to make it work and to do the best for this community. You feel that the moment you walk in the door. I can’t imagine working for a place that’s as good as Lakeland Community Hospital.”

There is that humble pride, again.

For more information, visit www.lakelandcommunityhospital.com.

Alabama Bright Lights captures the stories, through words, pictures and video, of some of our state’s brightest lights who are working to make Alabama an even better place to live, work and play. Award-winning journalist Karim Shamsi-Basha tells their inspiring stories. Email him comments, as well as suggestions on people to profile, at [email protected].

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