Decatur-Morgan Hospital unveils upgrades, challenging number of uninsured people remains


New healthcare technology, more room, and a fresher look are all about to open in Morgan County.

The $50 million project to upgrade healthcare at the Decatur-Morgan Hospital was finally unveiled to the public Thursday. The hospital president tells WZDX News the new state of the art technology will help improve their healthcare, but the hospital will still have the challenge of a rising number of uninsured people.

The temporary emergency department at the hospital’s main campus will be a thing of the past in March, when the renovated one opens. The emergency department director says almost 60,000 people came through the hospital system’s ER’s last year. The ones that come this year will have 13 more treatment areas.

In the rest of the 100-year old building there will be a new look, 50 new high-tech, private beds that can measure vital signs, and new MRI suite.

“It used to be outside in a trailer,” explained President Nathaniel Richardson. “So you would no longer have to go outside to get MRI’s.”

Richardson says they’re preparing the county for growth from the Mazda Toyota plant. But all of this won’t eliminate the challenge that still costs the hospital.

“The biggest trend we’ve seen is we have more people that are uninsured and we have to continue to take care of those individuals,” Richardson said. “It’s going to be important for our elected officials, for us to work with them, so that we can expand Medicaid. That would certainly insure more people.”

A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that an uninsured person costs a hospital $900 in uncompensated care.

“The challenge because of the metrics and the criteria to go on Medicaid, it’s different from state to state,” said Richardson. “So we can continue to work with the state to come up with a methodology that works for Alabama.”

Just as community members and leaders got to see the hospital’s behind-the-scenes renovation Thursday, Richardson says it’s important to work with lawmakers so that they too know what’s going on with local healthcare behind the scenes.

This is the third year of the five-year renovation. What won’t end after five years, according to Richardson, is trying to become more efficient.

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