August 1, 2017University Medical Center is adding a permanent location in Demopolis, AL, adjacent to the Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital, within the hospital’s outpatient facility, effective August 1, 2017. The initiative began as a temporary response to an immediate need to help Demopolis physician, Dr. Gerald Hodge, cover his practice and to sustain the availability of care to his patients and the community in his absence. With that, clinicians from the College of Community Health Sciences—including family medicine faculty physicians, the OB fellow and a nurse practitioner—stepped in to provide interim clinical care. However, with the recent retirement of Hodge, the only local physician still providing pre-natal care following the closure of the hospital’s obstetrical unit in February 2015, it quickly became apparent that there was a significant, and growing, need for family medicine and pre-natal care in the communities immediately surrounding Demopolis. To that end, the temporary coverage has transitioned to a new, third location for University Medical Center, the practice run by CCHS. The establishment of UMC-Demopolis is a means by which the College can help that community directly, and support the local hospital, while also developing a model that combines a full spectrum rural practice with medical education, all linked to the larger infrastructure of University Medical Center and the CCHS. Similarly, in an independent effort, administrators from the UAB Health System are working with hospital leadership to develop strategies to improve the hospital’s financial operations and viability.
The serendipity of our work in Demopolis on the physician side with that of the UAB Health System working with the hospital is unique, and strengthens the likelihood of sustained success. UAB will no doubt be very helpful in operational strategies for the hospital. But what the hospital most needs for success is more local physicians, particularly primary care docs. That will be our principal contribution to this unique three-way partnership. —Dr. Richard Streiffer Dean and Professor of Family Medicine, College of Community Health SciencesWhile UMC-Demopolis will officially be open to patients beginning this week, the plans for further growth are still in motion. The planning and development phase will continue over the coming months, and a grand opening in the fall is anticipated.