Pickens County leaders plead case for hospital reopening in Montgomery

Efforts continue to secure funding to reopen the Pickens County Medical Center.

Mayors of cities in Pickens County were told they’d need to collect at least 5,000 signatures to score a meeting with state lawmakers and members of the governor’s cabinet. In two months, they collected more than double that, nearly 11,000 signatures.

“The reason it closed last time was because of lack of use,” said Carrollton Mayor Mickey Walker. “That woke everyone up when it closed. Every time the scanner goes off, we are wondering what is going on now. Who is about to die? We have had at least five cases when they’ve had to pass by here on the way to Tuscaloosa and people have passed away. This hospital has got to reopen.”

That meeting with state lawmakers happened last week in Montgomery. There, Pickens County leaders learned what it will take to secure $20 million in American Rescue Plan funding so they can reopen the hospital. So how are they gonna do it? By focusing on mental health care.

“We are trying to open up a child care adolescent psych ward at Pickens County Medical Center, which would give us a great opportunity for the ARP money to be funding this,” Walker said. “That does qualify for it. Upon talking to Brooks McClendon in the governor’s office, this is what we have got to focus on. And the governor is really pushing mental health right now. With her pushing mental health, this is a perfect opportunity to use this facility which we could also get UAB to come in and help run the emergency department which would be totally separate.”

State Sen. Gerald Allen represents Pickens County and accompanied the mayors on their trip. He said this is by no means a done deal, and he’s stressing how crucial it is to make sure no stone is left uncovered if residents want the hospital opened once more.

“We are working on a business plan for the new facility,” Allen said. “That plan will be handed over to the governor’s office, and that is the next step.”

The Pickens County Medical Center Board will meet Nov. 7 at 5:30 p.m. at the Pickens County College and Career Center to discuss potential next steps.

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