Hospital expansion provides 'shining example'
On April 6, 2020, the first case of COVID-19 was diagnosed at Washington County Hospital and Nursing Home. By April 24, nightly prayer walks were in place. By April 27, the staff was in full biohazard suits.
By May 2020, the need for a new Emergency Room and Legacy Hall was clear. Two years later, a grateful crowd, including Gov. Kay Ivey, arrived for dedication of the expanded Emergency Room and new Legacy Hall that opened on July 19, 2022.
Gov. Ivey shared her thoughts on the importance of rural medicine at the dedication service. As a native of rural Wilcox County, Gov. Ivey emphasized the importance of rural medicine at the dedication service. She said the new facilities in Washington County provide “a shining example for hospitals across the state, big and small.”
Teresa Grimes, CEO of the Washington County Hospital and Nursing Home, said, “We are excited we are able to offer this to the community and appreciate them and all their support.”
She said the new amenities will be a game changer for the facility. The emergency room includes a separate waiting area and registration space. The emergency room also includes triage space, trauma bariatrics and a decontamination area with three showers as well as negative pressure rooms for contagious patients.
Harold Crouch, chairman of the Executive Committee, was instrumental in hiring lead staff for the project and securing funding. During the opening, he was sure to thank everybody involved in the process at all levels, including the 180 people who work at the hospital.
According to hospital sources, it became clear, after the National Guard was called in to assist with the nursing home on May 4, 2020, that more kitchen and meeting space, in addition to space for family members, was needed. An architect was called in to plan the Legacy Hall area.
The Washington County Hospital Board, which includes 15 board members, is appointed by the County Commission. To make the expansion possible, the first step is to request proposals. Afterward, the project goes out for bids. After a bidding process, Russell Construction was selected, and they received a notice to proceed on March 16, 2021.
Another required step for the project was getting the Alabama Department of Public Health to approve the remodeling. The emergency room is a free-standing area with separate utilities including a generator. The Legacy Hall is licensed as a dayroom.
The project was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which contributed $3.5 million. The Healthcare Authority, owned and operated by the county, contributed a million dollars.