EAMC-Lanier received highest amount in its history last year

Published 11:00 am Tuesday, February 27, 2024

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Greg Nichols, the Hospital Administrator for East Alabama Medical Center Lanier, gave an update to the Chambers County Commission on the progress of the hospital. 

He began with the fiscal bullet points of the hospital in the last year. For the 2023 fiscal year, the hospital has received $1,785,870.18, the highest amount in the hospital’s history. 

“We’re investing every penny of that back into the year and to serve people of Chambers County,” Nichols said. 

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Some of the projects the money will go to are renovations to the nursing home on the campus as well as the Emergency room. The nursing home is undergoing a total renovation, although only 10 rooms at a time so that all residents are not displaced. Around $2.5 million has been spent on the project so far. The Emergency Department put in new flooring in cabinets. Money was also used to get some new equipment for clinical use. 

As the population and needs of the community grow, so too do the Lanier and Opelika campuses. Lanier Emergency Park treated 16,553 patients last year. Nichols was particularly proud of the hospital’s acute rehab unit. The unit serves longer-stay rehab patients recovering from neurologic, orthopedic, or cardiological issues. It served 234 patients and ranked in the top 10 percent nationally of all rehab units in clinical outcomes.

“It measures how well people do return back to how they were before your injury or before a stroke before their surgery,” Nichols said. “We’re getting back to work, we’re getting back home, And so we’re very proud of the results that we’re seeing.”

The hospital also added 8 beds to the 12-bed geriatric psychiatric facility in October. The in-patient facility is for individuals 55 and older, although most patients are over 65 years old, with mental issues. Last year it saw 152 patients. This year the facility is on track to see over 280 patients, reflecting the growing need for mental health care in the state. 

In Opelika, the main EAMC campus has some big projects that will serve Chambers County. Fall of 2025 will see the opening of a new 40-bed free-standing psychiatric hospital. There is currently a 28-bed in-patient facility for adults and children in Opelika, which is often full said Nichols. He adds that over 500 people have been turned away from care in the unit due to lack of space. 

“Mental health needs in our state and our area and really across the nation are continuing to grow,” Nichols said. 

The new facility will include a psychiatric residency program once complete. This will allow for the local training of psychiatrists. EAMC currently has an internal medicine program.

“Our residents there have been very successful for us. A lot of them once they are here in the Auburn, Opelika, Lee County, and Chambers County area, they want to stay. And so that’s a good recruiting tool for us to bring new physicians to the area,” Nichols said.

The other Opelika addition is three new floors for the Intensive Care Unit. This will add 30 beds to the current ICU, which Nichols said is also chronically overcrowded. Construction is set to begin in the summer.

Lanier has seen over 19,000 individuals in outpatient care. This includes radiology labs, cardiac rehab and physical therapy among other services. 

“We have a lot of people that come through the doors of the EAMC-Lanier each day. And we could not do that if we didn’t have that investment from the people of Chambers County,” Nichols said.