Partnership with BWWMH first of its kind for UAB

For more than a year the Tombigbee Healthcare Authority board worked long hours to form a partnership with the University of Alabama at Birmingham Health System.

The hard work became official Oct. 1 when the two entities signed a Management and Affiliation Agreement.

At the Wednesday meeting of the Demopolis Rotary Club, Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital board vice chairman Alan Bishop explained the benefits of the partnership with the hospital and to the Demopolis area. He told local Rotarians that the process has been “quite a journey.”

“The time that has been spent has been unbelievable,” he said.

Cooperation started early with the formation of a transition team of representatives from the hospital, UAB, the city and the county. Former Robertson Banking Company President Al Garrett came out of retirement to chair the team.

While UAB has expanded its medical services to Montgomery and other larger communities, the partnership with BWWMH is the first venture into rural health care. The move was made possible because of legislation in 2016 opening the door for University Health Authorities to help rural systems. The collaboration brings with it the Birmingham-based hospital’s management and expertise, marketing, physician recruitment and purchasing, Bishop said.

Such affiliation also brings with it UAB’s reputation strength, he continued.

Already in place was a recently opened branch of the University Medical Center in the Outpatient Building of the hospital, joining UMC’s two other locations in Tuscaloosa and Northport.

Two UAB officials now serve on the BWWMH board. “I thought they’d send down a couple of middle managers,” said Bishop. Instead, the two are Don Lilly, senior vice president of network development and affiliate operations, and Sean Tenney, chief operations officer for the Medical West Hospital. The two sat in their first board meeting on Oct. 26.

UAB is very conscious of its brand. Within the next two to three months, an approved UAB sign will be erected on U.S. Hwy. 80 to let everyone know of the relationship between UAB and BWWMH.

While the link with the Demopolis hospital is the first venture into rural health care for UAB, Bishop said it probably won’t be the last. Lilly’s focus has been to expand UAB’s outreach.

Such a partnership is a win-win for both facilities. With BWWMH handling cases that normally would be transferred to UAB, beds will be freed in Birmingham for more acute medical needs.

“UAB is not here just to be a nice guy,” said Bishop. “UAB is here to make money.”

The new partner is studying the survey that BWWMH conducted to determine what services are needed in the area.

Healthcare on Wheels – Sept. 6-9, 2016

HCOW Sep 6-9-16 Event Calendar Flyer

BWWMH Healthcare on Wheels – Aug. 29 – Sept. 2, 2016

8-29 thru 9-2 Event Calendar Flyer

Healthcare On Wheels – Aug. 15-20, 2016

Healthcare on Wheels 8-15-16 thru 8-20-16

Healthcare On Wheels – Aug. 8-12, 2016

HCOW Aug 8-12-16

Health Care On Wheels – August 1-6, 2016

Health Care On Wheels Event Calendar Flyer Aug 1-6

Tombigbee Healthcare Authority announces dates for Health Care on Wheels

HealthCare on Wheels Event Calendar Flyer p2

Studies have shown that when people have access to health care within their reach, they are more apt to use it. The Tombigbee Healthcare Authority (THA) hopes to bring health care to those in need this summer by means of its Health Care on Wheels mobile health clinic.

While there have been several programs and projects developed and implemented to address communities’ health care needs in the Delta Region of Alabama, unfortunately, there continues to be a gap between service provision and access, especially in the cities targeted in the grant application. These areas include those where there are no health care provider offices, no Federally Qualified Health Care Clinics, no hospitals within 60 miles or more, and no emergency medical care.

Currently, THA has the only mobile health van available to the target counties who provide primary health care services. Other mobile health vans like the Veterans Administration Hospital only see patients who are veterans. Additional reasons why this program is needed because people in the areas targeted in this grant do not have access to transportation and live a distance away from immediate health care. Making access available to them steps away from home will encourage them to seek health care early. Also, it will assist people in locating a medical home, medication, affordable health insurance, and other community resources. It will also encourage health care providers to seek to practice in a rural area after seeing the need aboard the mobile clinic.

The mobile medical van is a totally independent unit with the capability of performing patient hands-on health care/clinic services. The type of services to be offered will include, but not limited to, a complete health assessment, preventive health screenings (i.e. blood sugar checks, cholesterol, and blood pressure checks.) Delivery of services will be provided by a doctor, certified registered nurse practitioner, and a registered nurse. The target patient population will consist of those who are 19 and above. Patients younger will be referred if no acute care is needed at the point of contact. The clinical design–equipment and facility–of the HCOW-MC (Health Care On Wheels Mobile Clinic) includes two medical exam rooms, each equipped with an exam table, blood pressure wall unit and cabinets, space for patient intake, small waiting areas, and a bathroom. The HCOW-MC also includes heating and air conditioning units so that windows may remain closed to promote privacy and compliance with HIPAA regulations. It is also wheel chair accessible, with an awning for outside seating and safety features such as back-up camera and burglar alarm.

The overarching goal of the Health Care On Wheels Program is to develop and expand primary health care services in the Delta Region that addresses longstanding and unmet health needs that will ultimately:

  • Reduce the disease and economic burden of chronic disease
  • Improve the quality of life for persons who have or are at risk of developing chronic disease
  • Increase outreach and linkage to other healthcare resources

Within these goals, the objective is to provide residents, who do not have access to a doctor, immediate primary health care services, preventative health care services, and outreach linkages to health resources.

We understand the importance of a healthy community, and want to help you meet your health care needs.



Evans discusses BWWMH future with Demopolis Rotary

Art Evans speaks to the Demopolis Rotary Club on Wednesday, March 30. (Photo by Jan McDonald)

Art Evans speaks to the Demopolis Rotary Club on Wednesday, March 30. (Photo by Jan McDonald)

Demopolis’ hospital will “take a ‘selfie’” over the next three months as it conducts a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA).

Art Evans, CEO/administrator of Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital, told members of the Rotary Club Wednesday the assessment, being conducted by an independent agency, will cover demand for future services, where patients go if not to the local hospital, service time performance, core services, physicians’ needs and a SWOT analysis.

The last such CHNA occurred five years ago, Evans said. They are conducted on a regular basis to gauge how well the hospital is doing and how it can improve.

Part of the CHNA will be a survey of stakeholders in the five-county area the hospital covers, he continued. People such as health care professionals, elected officials and community leaders will be asked to give their opinion on improving hospital services.

Once the CHNA is complete, the hospital must set out an implementation strategy to address improvement issues as mandated by the IRS. The assessment helps the hospital recognize trends so that it can be proactive in preparing for the future.

Evans also talked about the issue of Medicaid funding in Alabama. Medicaid, he said, is limited to children, pregnant women, the elderly and disabled. Alabama has the most restrictive eligibility standards in the country since those requesting aid cannot make more than $2,867 a year.

For every 32 cents the state puts into Medicaid, the federal government adds 68 cents. Alabama has the third lowest cost per enrollee in the country.

The proposed legislation to add only $15 million to the Medicaid budget will fall far short of what is needed, Evans continued. “Level funding is going to force Medicaid to cut services,” he said.

The hospitals and medical professionals in the state have been working for the past two years on a Regional Care Organization plan which would start Oct. 1. Because it is done within the state and each RCO would manage its allocated funds, the usual 15 percent administrative fee would not have to be paid to an outside insurance company to oversee, saving costs for the state.

However, unless more money is added to the Medicaid budget, the RCOs are in jeopardy of not being able to begin and help keep down health care costs for those in need.

Evans stressed to the Rotarians that hospitals in the state get no money from the General Fund Budget. Hospitals themselves pay into a state fund that is matched at the federal level three-to-one. That money is returned to the hospitals after the state takes out 15 percent for the Medicaid agency.

The General Fund Budget, he explained, helps pay for physicians, pharmacies and nursing homes.

To help generate more funds for the hospital, Evans said BWWMH is taking advantage of the federal influx of $750 million to help jump-start the RCO program by submitting plans on how to save money in the long run. If approved, the hospital will be rewarded monetarily.

The hospital, said Evans, expected to submit three plans on Thursday. They include a more efficient admittance of patients to the Emergency Department, whether there for clinical ailments or more critical needs; group physicians to handle more Medicaid patients, and better use of the Health Care on Wheels van.

The hospital has received a $900,000 grant to extend the Health Care on Wheels for one year. It will equip the van and physicians’ offices, including technology to connect the van to doctors’ offices, and will pay for the doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners to man the van.

The van started last week and will have a rotating two-week schedule through the rural areas of the five counties the hospital serves.

The hospital on Tuesday received its audit report. While the auditors gave it a clean report, Evans said it showed that operating costs are 107 percent of the net patient service revenue.

The good news, he said, is that it is the lowest cost-to-revenue among the peer hospitals that the auditors used as comparisons.

Hospitals now have to rely on other sources of revenue besides patients paying their fee. The difference between BWWMH and the other hospitals it was compared to is that the others received millions of dollars in local government support.

The local hospital lost $650,000 in 2015. Thanks to cost-cutting measures and more efficient operations, the loss is considerably less that previous years. It is trending in the right direction, said Evans.

2016 ARHA Rural Health Conference registration now open

Registration for the 2016 Alabama Rural Health Conference  is now open.

The conference, sponsored by the Alabama Rural Health Association and the Alabama Department of Public Health’s Office of Primary Care and Rural Health, is designed for rural health care providers and will cover topics relevant to the practice of rural health in Alabama such as Alabama Medicaid Reform, managing higher risk populations, updates on tele-medicine in Alabama, and hospital and safety net diversification.

Alan Morgan, Executive Director of the National Rural Health Association, will provide an update from Washington, D.C.

The conference will be held at the Montgomery Marriott Prattville Hotel & Conference Center at Capitol Hill, located at 2500 Legends Circle, Prattville, Ala., 36066.

For more information and to register, visit

Thursday marks National Rural Health Day

Thursday, hospitals and others across the country will celebrate National Rural Health Day. It’s a great time to reflect on how lucky we are to have 50 rural hospitals in Alabama serving the needs of our local communities. If we were to offer a collective annual report, it would look something like this.

Last year, our rural hospitals employed 15,000 people, provided emergency care to more than 620,000 individuals, inpatient care to 110,000 and delivered approximately 10,000 babies. We created two jobs for every one we funded, provided thousands of dollars in additional economic impact and were the reasons many communities were able to attract new business. We served as the backbone of health care in our communities, supporting doctors’ offices, dialysis clinics, pharmacies and other necessary health care services. We saved lives, extended lives and simply made thousands of lives better.

However, our success wouldn’t have been possible without you, our local communities. So as we celebrate Rural Health Day, those of us who work in rural hospitals want our communities to know how much we appreciate all of you. Your support and patronage through the years has been critical in preserving good care throughout rural Alabama.

You’ve trusted us to deliver your precious children and grandchildren and then care for them when they broke a bone, were bitten by a stray animal or injured while playing sports. You’ve allowed us the privilege of treating your aging parents, giving them comfort and a better quality of life. You’ve stood with us and watched as our team of doctors, nurses and other clinicians saved lives. You’ve also cried on our shoulders when the only hope we could give was for a peaceful and dignified passing of your loved one.

You are our neighbors and our friends, and we’ve been through a lot together. You’ve come to our grand openings, and we’ve gone to your weddings. You’ve watched as our hospitals have grown from small infirmaries in the 1950s to modern facilities offering the latest technology and treatments. You’ve seen the health care benefits of having good local care, but you have also probably enjoyed the economic benefits. In fact, many of you probably work at the hospital or have a family member who does.

Health care is changing; there are new treatment options, new medicines and new ways to better coordinate and provide your care. However, no matter what changes, one thing remains constant … our commitment to you and your family and our gratitude for your trust. So, when we count our blessings this week, we’re counting all of you who have entrusted us with your most precious possession, your lives.

Chris B. Griffin, CEO of D.W. McMillan Memorial Hospital, Brewton
Chairman of the Alabama Hospital Association’s Rural Constituency Section