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Chambers Co. approves proclamations

LaFAYETTE — In its first meeting in March, the Chambers County Commission on Monday approved several proclamations and heard an update from EAMC-Lanier Administrator Greg Nichols on how the local hospital fared in 2017.

Nichols thanked the commissioners and Chambers County citizens for their long-time support. He said that public support for the hospital was a huge factor in EAMC-Lanier continuing to serve the local community. He said that without a property tax increase approved by the voters several years ago, the hospital would very likely be closed today.

“I very proud of the service our hospital provides, and we thank the commissioners and the citizens for their support,” Nichols said. “It’s clear that the citizens support the hospital and trust that they will receive good care there.”

In 2017, there was a total of 1,577 in-patient admissions to the hospital and over 15,000 visits to the emergency room and more than 20,000 people in primary care. There was more than 21,000 procedures in radiology, many of them being mammograms. EAMC-Lanier has a total of 477 employees, which is slightly up from the total of 469 employees when the affiliation with EAMC began.

EAMC-Lanier encourages its employees to further their educations. Nine employees are currently enrolled in a school-at-work program and six more are working on their MBAs.

There’s also a RN to BSN program that allows nurses to work on Bachelor’s degrees in nursing.

“Our employees care about each other,” Nichols said, pointing to their commitment in building Chattahoochee Fuller Center Project homes for two employees. One home was finished in December and work starts on the second one next Monday.

The local tax increase that was approved in 2013 has brought in more than $3.5 million in new revenue since 2014. That money has gone to the purchase of new – and much needed – equipment. A total of $7.2 million was spent on upgrading medical records.

Nichols said that EAMC-Lanier is committed to a five-year capital plan that will see improvements in the emergency room and nursing home.

EAMC-Lanier is now able to offer such services as a 10-bed detox unit and a 17-bed physical rehab unit. He added that the hospital will face future challenges in the form of financial pressures, something that’s common throughout the healthcare industry, and the continuing need to recruit more primary care physicians to the local community.

Nichols offered an invitation for the commissioners to come to the hospital for a visit.

“I am so thankful we do have a hospital in this community,” he said.

County Attorney Skip McCoy said that it’s becoming increasingly likely that Sunday alcohol sales will be on the ballot this year. The part of Chambers County outside Lanett and Valley is among few areas between Atlanta and Montgomery on I-85 that’s already doing this.

He thanked State Rep. Isaac Whorton for his efforts in getting it though the Alabama House. He added that State Sen. Gerald Dial is expected to support it in the senate.

McCoy added that he’s hopeful something will be done at the state and federal level to address a serious opioid problem in Alabama and the nation.

County Engineer Josh Harvill asked for some patience and understanding on a problem the county is having with potholes.

“We have had a really rough winter,” he said. “It seems like we’ve been taking one step forward and two steps back. We’ve had so much cold weather and rain that we haven’t been able to do as much as we would have liked.”

When the weather improves, the county should be able to address this with its new one-man pothole patcher.

Commission Chairman Charlie Williams thanked Harvill and the men in his department for doing good work in spite of some difficult circumstances.

Thomas Ivey of the Chambers County Sherrif’s Department received two commendations Monday, one for completing some training at the Alabama Jail Training Academy and another for the manner he dealt with a situation with an inmate.

In February, Ivey was jumped by an inmate who was having mental issues. The inmate took a Taser from him and was using it on him when Ivey wrested it away from him and got the situation under control.