Updated: Nov 1
Greg Nichols, who serves as the administrator at East Alabama Medical Center – Lanier, was the guest speaker at the LaFayette Rotary Club meeting last week urging them to vote yes for the continued ad valorem tax in the upcoming general election on Tuesday, November 8th, 2022.
Nichols explained the upcoming vote to extend a Chambers County 4-mil ad valorem tax. He said that 10 years ago, the people of Chambers County voted to approve a 4-mill ad valorem tax to support our local hospital, George H. Lanier in Valley.
He said, “I am so grateful for the results of that vote, and it truly has enabled the hospital to remain open and provide care to our community.”
"Right now with flu and cold cases spiking, we are seeing record-setting days with ER visits, and people can't get in to see their doctor because they are so busy, and they needed a place to go to get tested, or because they feel so bad. Even though our waiting room is a standing room only, we will see them all.
"Getting care close to home is so important, and we do provide good care, and part of that healing is the family support you get, the neighbors that are there to help, and if you can be close to home that helps the healing process, but we need this continued tax to financially provide this care", said Nichols.
Nichols explained in the past year, the hospital has provided care to our community through:
456 Inpatient stays
250+ Acute Rehab Patients
15,340 ER visits (wide range of patients, 3 babies delivered in the last month, strokes, heart attacks, motor vehicle accidents, and trauma that needs stabilization before transferring to another hospital)
20,570 Radiology Procedures
2115 ASC procedures as well as other outpatient services (Rehab, Cardiac Rehab, Lab, etc.)
Nichols said that in addition to the care that these funds have enabled the hospital to provide, the money has also allowed it to have a greater impact that may not be as evident.
The impacts he outlined are:
First, and most importantly, the tax proceeds were intended to fund capital investments in our facility and equipment. While we have received $10.3 million in the first 9 years of the program, in that same time frame we have invested $21.5 million in capital and spent an additional $9 million on debt retirement for Lanier. The items that we have purchased over the last 9 years range from wheelchairs to an MRI to a 3D mammography machine for our hospital.
Secondly, having a hospital in our area allows us to offer a solid and steady employment opportunity. As of today, we have over 450 employees within our local organization. This includes full-time, part-time, and per diem. With this number of employees, we have an annual expense of $18 million for payroll and benefits. Admittedly not all these employees live in Chambers County, but the clear majority do and much of that $18 million is spent in our local economy.
Next, through investments in our facility, we have been able to open an Ambulatory Surgical Center, Inpatient Rehab Unit, and have opened a Geriatric psych unit last week and have started to take patients. "While these are much-needed services and allow us to care for many patients, it also gives us an opportunity to showcase our community to those that live outside Chambers County. Many of these patients are from the counties surrounding Chambers County and want them to come to our area.
The hospital has provided a base for having a strong physical presence in our area to meet the primary care needs of the community. The physicians and nurse practitioners that are at the Medical Pavilion include Dr. Fagan, Dr. Hammond, Dr. Dusek, Dr. Kamath, Dr. Bakshi, Dr. Downs, Leanne Knowles, Carla Moore, and Christy Johnson.
And last, I strongly believe that the presence of a hospital and access to local doctors are here because East Alabama Health, helps attract businesses and people to our community", added Nichols.
TheEAMC-Lanier Administrator concluded by saying he was reminded of the support this community has provided for our hospital over the years and is asking for that support once again and specifically asked each member for a personal commitment to vote for the continuation of the current ad valorem tax. Nichols recommended that Rotarians use the sample ballot as the visual aide for this vote.
Secondly, he asked each member to reach at least 10 people to vote for the continuation of the program
"It is important to our community that we have a strong community hospital, ER, and providers to serve all who live here, and we cannot do it without each of you", said Nichols.
For more information on East Alabama Medical Center – Lanier, go to https://www.eastalabamahealth.org/location/eamc-lanier