By Luke Brantley
WINFIELD — Northwest Regional Health held a grand opening for its new emergency room facility on Friday, June 16.
Representatives from the city, such as Mayor Randy Price and a few members of the city council, State Representative Tracy Estes and a representative from U.S. Representative Robert Aderholt’s office were all present at the ribbon cutting ceremony.
CEO Michael Windham, Price, Estes and Aderholt’s representative, Kreg Kennedy, all spoke on how much teamwork it took to secure the funding through an Economic Adjustment Assistance grant to make the new emergency room possible, and the difficulties they faced to do so.
“Three years ago, when I came here, the week of COVID-19, we were on the verge of closing the hospital,” Windham said in his remarks. “We started with a $2 million loss, but now we’re in better shape than we’ve been in in a long time. The challenges here in Alabama that rural hospitals face are never ending.
“I would like to recognize Congressman Robert Aderholt who has his team here today. When COVID happened, we shut down for two months. The congressman and his staff, along with Tracy Estes and the mayor, along with many others, all worked together to help us out. We’re open today because of all the things they’ve done behind the scenes. Without them, we wouldn’t be here today.”
Estes said the opening of this new facility would not have been possible without God.
“Let me just start by saying it’s only because of the good Lord that we’re here today, because without his divine intervention this event would not be taking place,” he said. “I know in March of 2020, I was told the hospital wouldn’t be able to make payroll. If you would have told me on that day that we would be standing here celebrating this, I would have never believed you.”
Mayor Randy Price said it was a difficult journey to get to this point.
“In 2018, we were up against the wall about what we were going to do about the hospital,” Price said. “It took the efforts of me and my council—I can’t do anything without the council supporting what my ideas are and trying to see what I see.
“What people need to know about rural hospitals is that every rural hospital is struggling. I wanted us to be standing when the rest of them fall. It’s going to be a continuous effort that’s not ever going to be easy, whether it’s making sure we can pay the staff or the government not paying us what they need to, all the way down the line. I could go on and on about that, but that’s not why we’re here today. We’re here to celebrate what we’ve done. It’s not one person. It's not one politician. It’s everybody working together that’s made this come together.”
Kennedy spoke on behalf of Congressman Robert Aderholt, reading a statement that Aderholt made when this grant money was first secured.
“I have made saving our rural hospitals a priority,” Aderholt said. “I'm proud to say that not a single hospital in my very rural district has had to close in the last decade. Part of that success comes from Congress appropriating funds like these that can be used to support the hospital in Winfield. These funds were secured in the CARES Act passed by Congress in 2020, and signed into law by President Donald Trump. This money is not only an investment in the hospital's facilities, but it's an investment in the community. People take comfort in knowing their local hospital is going to be open and there when needed. These funds will help ensure Northwest Medical Center will be open to serve the people of Marion County for decades to come.”
The new, state-of-the-art emergency room facility has been in the works for around two years, after it was first announced the hospital had received the grant in May of 2021.
See complete story in the Journal Record.