Florala opens nursing facility in style

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 17, 2003

It's the next best thing to home. For many people, putting their loved ones in a health care facility is one of the hardest decisions they will ever have to make, no matter how good the facility it is. When the only nursing homes available are 20 to 30 minutes away at the least, that decision becomes much harder.

Now, thanks to the determination of a community, led by former Mayor Glen Zorn, and

a corporation,

NHS Management, L.L.C., the decision has been eased. After years of pushing, politicking and promising, the Florala Health and Rehabilitation Center on Goldenrod Avenue is open.

The center held its official open house and ribbon cutting Sunday afternoon, with many of the key players in its creation present, from Speaker of the House Seth Hammett and State Senator Jimmy Holley, to Zorn himself. The event was attended by hundreds.

"This project kept on schedule and kept on going," said Florala Mayor T.C. Boyett, who credited Zorn with being the driving force, or, as Boyett put it, "The Pusher."

"He used a telephone like a lethal weapon," said Boyett. "We owe a great deal of thanks to many people and certainly Glen Zorn is one of those people."

Sara Goolsby, a councilwoman for Florala, as well as the administrator for the new center, also spoke.

"We are dedicated to providing the highest quality of care," she said. "What we see here today is an example of what people can do when they work together. For many years, a nursing home has been talked about in Florala."

She said Zorn, whose mother-in-law had been in an Opp facility, "made it a mission." She then gave Zorn a plaque to honor him for his dedication to the project.

There were also plaques ready for Hammett and Holley who did their own work on the project by helping convince state agencies that Florala did, in fact, need a nursing home of its own.

"The reason there hasn't been a nursing home in Florala is because there's an agency in Montgomery that said we didn't need one," said Norman Estes, CEO and president of NHS Management, who was also the one to cut the ribbon for the official opening. He thanked Hammett and Holley for their assistance and went on to praise the staff, most of whom are from Florala and the surrounding area.

"I'm very proud of the staff we've assembled,"

Estes said. "We take our mission very seriously. You caregivers do God's work - stand tall and we will support you."

Estes said NHS' involvement in the new facility was unique.

"I've never seen a community come together the way this community has come together in support for this nursing home," he said.

The Faith Ringers Handbell Choir performed at the open house, which also featured tours of the facility and a reception in the dining area.