MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - The announcement that Infirmary Health Systems is closing its west Mobile hospital affects another major hospital in our area, the University of South Alabama which still owns the building. It seems the decision to close Infirmary West has USA scrambling to relocate some of its doctors and their patients who also use the facility.
On October 31, Infirmary West will become the third hospital to close at this site on Girby Road. USA bought Knollwood Hospital in 1990. When USA pulled out in 2005, the university leased the hospital to Infirmary Health Systems.
Five USA doctors continue to operate out of the facility. USA Vice President Dr. Ronald Franks said the announcement wasn't a complete surprise.
"Well, I was a little surprised with the short timeline, but I wasn't totally surprised, because that had been, they had told us, that that was one of the options that they were considering," Franks said.
Franks said USA doctors and patients will be moved to other USA hospitals in the area.
In the meantime, the university is waiting to find out what Infirmary Health Systems plans to do with the building.
"As it stands now, they still have a lease with us, and so if they decide to do something different with the building they certainly would be talking to us about what their plans are," he said.
Infirmary Health Systems President and CEO Mark Nix blames Obamacare for the decision to close the hospital, but he admits there were other factors.
"We have a unique situation at Infirmary West. It's a low volume hospital to start with. Low volume as far as patients, and a low volume as far as emergency room department as well," Nix said.
Nix indicated Infirmary Health Systems hasn't given up completely on the facility.
"Our goal would be to try to modify the use of it, to try to conform to what we think is best for the community. And that is to have a hospital with some specialized services," he said.
Nix said one priority right now is to find jobs for the more than 200 employees at other Infirmary Hospitals. And employees aren't the only ones concerned about the closing.
Elizabeth Martin likes living close to a hospital.
"I was there for rehab a few years ago, and it was nice to be close to home," Martin said.
The information FOX10 News turned up shows that business was just not good at the hospital, and it hasn't been for years before Obamacare.
For example, 990 forms filed with the federal government show Infirmary West has lost millions of dollars every year since 2008.
Two other hospitals that closed at the same location apparently had the same problem. One of them was owned by the University of South Alabama.
USA Vice President Ronald Franks said the hospital wasn't very competitive for the university either.
"We're finding across the country is we need fewer hospital beds than we did maybe 10 or 15 years ago. Partly, because of the way we practice medicine these days. We can handle more conditions outside the hospital as well as efficient ways to move people through the hospital faster, and so the length of stay is shorter so we don't need as many beds to treat the same number of patients. And so in Mobile, this hospital has had trouble staying full because of the other hospitals that are here in the community," Franks said.
Infirmary Health Systems has more than 20 years left on its lease with USA for the building.
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