The Florala Memorial Hospital parking lot was full Monday, but its doors remained locked.
The Florala Memorial Hospital parking lot was full Monday, but its doors remained locked.

Hospital closing is ‘devastating blow’

Published 12:00am Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Nearly 50 employees lost their jobs with the closing of Florala Memorial Hospital Friday, and now they, along with city officials, are struggling with the question, “What’s next?”

“I’m not going to candy coat the matter of Florala Memorial Hospital closing last Friday,” said Mayor Robert Williamson. “It is a devastating blow to our community. A shutdown of the facility was diverted three years ago when city officials received notification of the impending closure six hours in advance; however, on this occasion there was no advance notice.”

Williamson said a Saturday meeting with FHM owner, Dr. Robert Devrnja, revealed the closure decision was “a straight economical decision.”

“It’s no secret that the hospital has been struggling,” Williamson said. “Admittedly, the hospital being privately owned means it is a business just like any other with its owner having full discretion as to when to close or open, but the fact a hospital has the ability to, literally return life, makes the closing of this business so much more significant.”

Williamson said the hospital’s closure means a loss of life “any way you look at it.”

“There are going to be some patients who can’t make that 30 minutes to another hospital,” he said.

“Plus, the employment of 48 people and its direct impact on the future of Florala, gives tremendous weight to the closure of the hospital,” he said. “We’re at a loss, but we’re working on trying to figure out what comes next.”

Williamson said he is currently working to determine how – or if – the facility can be reopened.

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