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Group weighs hospital options

By By Thomas Tingle
Record Managing Editor
Which hospital will Madison's Hospital Advisory Committee chose to support in getting a full-service medical facility in town?
Members of the advisory committee will now review the plans presented to them by Crestwood Hospital CEO Brad Jones and Huntsville Hospital CEO Joe Austin. After hearing the two presentations, Madison City Councilman Bob Wagner, a member of the advisory committee, said the two plans are different in nature and both need further review before any decisions are made.
According to Jones, Crestwood plans to build a full-service, 120-bed hospital in Madison as soon as they win state approval to get the additional beds allotted in Madison County. Jones said the board of trustees for the hospital would come directly from Madison with half being doctors and the other half coming from either Madison residents or from the city government.
Austin said Huntsville Hospital plans to build up to 120 beds in Madison with a facility that can be expanded as need arises. Huntsville Hospital plans to build its facility at its U.S. Highway 72 and Balch Road site where a medical office building is located and where a wellness center is now under construction.
Jones said a site near Madison Boulevard could be chosen for Crestwood's facility.
"That is the difference in the two plans that have been presented to us," Wagner said. "Crestwood wants to go ahead and build a full blown, 120-bed hospital in Madison now. Huntsville Hospital wants to build a facility that can be expanded – 120 beds may not be built all at once."
Wagner said the committee would now weigh the pros and cons of the two plans and review the credentials of the two hospitals. He said it would be a tough decision to make as to which hospital the committee will support.
"You take a look at Huntsville Hospital and its years of medical service in this area. Then you take a look at Crestwood Hospital and you see the accomplishments this medical facility has made and continuing to make in Huntsville," Wagner said. "Both are very good and I'm sure the committee will have a lot more questions to ask Jones and Austin soon."
Wagner said it could come down to the state making the decision as to which hospital will be built in Madison.
"We could get to a point where it will be tough for the committee to decide which hospital we'll support and let the state make that decision," Wagner said. "What is important is the need to get community support in this endeavor. With the support of the community, it will be noted that the voices of Madison residents have been heard.
R. Parker Griffith of the Alabama Statewide Health Coordinating Council said Madison residents should decide which hospital should be built here. Alva M. Lambert, executive director of the State Health Planning and Development Agency, said the process in attaining a hospital in Madison could be long and that the city could face an uphill battle in getting the additional beds allotted in Madison County. Lambert said Madison's focus should be on getting 120 beds approved for the city and then decide who will own those beds.
Griffith said whomever the city of Madison decides to choose is the one who will likely get the state's approval.
Wagner said the committee hasn't heard any further plans or details from officials with Doctor's Hospital of Madison – the third hospital entity who had planned to build a medical facility in the city.
The next meeting of the Hospital Advisory Committee will be held at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in the council chambers of Madison City Hall.

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