Infirmary Health to manage Atmore hospital

Published 11:07 pm Thursday, August 28, 2014

Atmore Community Hospital (ACH) will end its nearly-20-year management relationship with Baptist Health Care, and Infirmary Health will be the new manager of ACH, according to a press release from the Escambia County Healthcare Authority (ECHA).

Infirmary Health, based out of Mobile, is the largest non-governmental, not-for-profit healthcare system in Alabama. It is composed of three acute care hospitals, three post-acute care facilities, three diagnostic centers and more than 22 medical clinics and other affiliates. It serves an 11-county area along the Gulf Coast and treats more than 800,000 patients annually. Infirmary Health is the manager of North Baldwin Infirmary in Bay Minette, Thomas Hospital in Fairhope and several hospitals and clinics in Daphne and Mobile.

“We are pleased with the process used to assure the continued provision of high-quality inpatient and outpatient healthcare in the community,” said Ruth Harrell, chair of the ECHA board. “The board received three thoughtful proposals. I am confident the board has recommended the option that will be best for employees, providers, our patients and the communities we serve.

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“Now the hard work begins as we complete due diligence and negotiate the new contract. Be patient with us because we don’t have all the answers yet, but will be working diligently to ensure the final contract represents the best interests of our staff, providers and the community.”

The ECHA will make arrangements for a community meeting in September, and announce that opportunity to learn more about Infirmary Health and the proposed changes at ACH as soon as a date is set.

Mark Nix, president and CEO of Infirmary Health, said he was excited ACH will be joining its system.

“We are pleased to have been selected to manage Atmore Community Hospital and are dedicated to providing superior healthcare to the residents of the Atmore community,” he said. “As a community-based health system, Infirmary Health has a 104-year history with a demonstrated record of exceptional quality and safety measures, high employee and physician engagement and commitment to the communities we serve.”

ACH signed its first management services and affiliation agreement with Baptist Health Care in 1995, and has renewed it several times. The current agreement is set to expire in June 2015. Baptist Health Care was one of the three providers who submitted a proposal to manage ACH.

“Atmore Community Hospital and Baptist Health Care have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship in the past,” said Mark Faulkner, president and CEO of Baptist Health Care. “All parties involved have the common goal of ensuring convenient access to quality patient care, while maintaining the viability of their respective organizations.

“Baptist is proud to serve the Atmore community and supports the board’s decision that will best address the unprecedented challenges that health care providers across the country are experiencing.”

Harrell also expressed ECHA’s appreciation to Baptist for nearly 20 years of managing Atmore’s hospital.

“Baptist has played a critical role in assuring healthcare in the community in the past,” she said. “On behalf of the ECHA board, I want to thank them and acknowledge their commitment to a smooth transition.”

A series of town hall meetings will be held for staff and providers Friday to further discuss the transition period. A special email address,, has been established to receive questions and comments from staff, providers and the community. This email box will be monitored by the ECHA board and the transition team.

The decision was made at a called meeting Thursday afternoon, when the ECHA accepted the recommendation of the ECHA Executive Committee to enter into a period of due diligence and contract negotiations with Infirmary Health. This recommendation was then presented to the regular meeting of the Escambia County Atmore Community Hospital Board.

The recommendation is the result of an inquiry period that began in late 2013 and resulted in the issuance of a request for proposals (RFP) to seek a new management contract. The RFP was issued in March.

Harrell said that the ECHA executive committee thoughtfully analyzed each proposal and conducted telephone and in-person interviews with each proposer before making their formal recommendation Thursday.