Alabama's rural hospitals in critical condition

Aug 2, 2015

Eight rural hospitals have closed in Alabama over the last 15 years and more closures are possible as rural hospitals struggle to stay open.

Voters in Randolph County will go to the polls Tuesday on a proposed one-cent sales tax to try to keep the doors of Wedowee Hospital open. The money will be used to support a bond issue to build a new facility that administrators hope will attract more patients.

Rural hospitals typically care for large numbers of poor and uninsured patients. That combined with low Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement rates have created financial troubles for the small facilities.

State Health Officer Don Williamson says the state has discussed ways to preserve health care infrastructure in rural areas, but there have been no easy answers.