A plan to build a new hospital in Chilton County will require millions of dollars and may not become a reality for several years.
Commissioner Alan Caton says rather than reopen the old hospital the plan is to build a new, smaller facility. He says the idea is to fund the $16 million-project with a new tax.
"The legislative group was really insistent on a sales tax," Caton said. "They felt that was something that would be more equal for everybody in the county."
But with the current legislative session coming to an end that tax would not be up for a vote until 2014. If that tax is approved next year, leaders expect crews to need 18 months to build the new facility. The bottom line: it could be years before Chilton County residents have nearby emergency care again.
It's something that Dwayne Whatley of Care Ambulance says he and the residents will have to deal with.
"Almost everyday we have people ask if we know when it's open and are upset it's not there. They really miss their hospital," Whatley said.
He says the shut down isn't just taking a toll on the residents, but on the staff and vehicles that must take them outside of the county.
"Cardiac arrest is our biggest issue," he said. "You hvae a cardiac arrest...we are losing at least 30 minutes when we go past [the closed hospital] in any direction."
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