Jefferson County considering medical help for Haiti

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Hospitals in Jefferson County may provide medical care for Haiti according to a idea under consideration by the Jefferson County Commission.

Jefferson Co Commissioner Shelia Smoot says the need for help is obvious and Birmingham should step in and help.

"I've talked with some of our doctors who think it's a great idea," Smoot said. "If we can get some federal funds to support that and help Haiti."

Smoot points to Physician Hospital at the old Carraway Hospital.  The facility shut down because of bankruptcy in 2008. The commisioner also says Cooper Green Mercy Hospital has beds available.

"It will also help Jefferson County and job creation," Smoot said. "Getting folks back to work here as well. We are going to need the staff to accommodate folks."

Smoot says federal funds would have to help support the idea. Still other commissioners have doubts re-locating Haitian patients to Jefferson County would be in the county's best interest.

"Bottom line, including Cooper Green, the taxes that fund Cooper Green are on a down turn," said Bettye Fine Collins, Jefferson Co. Commission president.

"I think this will cause more problems than it will solve," said commissioner Bobby Humphryes. "I don't know if there will be enough federal money."

 "I personally believe that Cooper Green should be run by an independent party," said commissioner Jim Carns. "The county should not be in the hospital business."

Still, Smoot wants to pursue more information about the proposal before coming to the full commission with it.

"This is a caring community," Smoot said.