ACH announces closure of surgery department

Published 4:22 pm Wednesday, April 3, 2024

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Special to the Advance

Atmore Community Hospital (ACH) officials announced April 3 the closure of its surgery department effective June 1, 2024, according to a release.

ACH officials said in a release that low patient volumes, poor reimbursement rates, including the lack of Medicaid expansion and rapidly inflating costs as reasons behind the closure.

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ACH officials said the hospital saw 300 patients or less per year in the surgery department, which equates to more than 30 a month. Additionally, because the hospital is located in a rural area in south Alabama, the reimbursement rates are going to be lower, and a lot of the numbers (rates) are predetermined based on geographical location, officials said.

“It is an unfortunate reality in today’s rural healthcare climate that hospitals are having to closely look at which services they are financially able to continue to provide. Atmore Community Hospital remains committed to providing our patients with quality healthcare and offering services locally. However, surgical services are not something we can continue offering and remain viable,” said Brad Lowery,

ACH administrator. “This decision was not made lightly, as we feel we have a very strong surgical team. Significant time and resources have gone in to trying to sustain the service, but we simply don’t have the necessary volume to support it at this time.”

According to hospital officials, ACH is working to have outpatient surgical consults locally through visiting specialist, including D.W. McMillan Memorial Hospital.

Along with this change in service, visiting specialists who were located in the ACH Specialty Care building will now be relocating to other areas of the hospital and clinics, according to officials.

“We continue to review what is working from a financial perspective,” said Debbie Rowell, Escambia County Health Care Authority board chairperson. “We cannot continue to offer services that decrease our financial feasibility. We continue to research impacts of Medicaid Expansion and better reimbursements options for rural healthcare facilities.”

ACH, which is governed by the Escambia County Health Care Authority board of directors, is an acute care hospital that has been a part of the Atmore community for over 50 years. The hospital’s facilities include a 24-hour emergency room, outpatient services, and general medical services. In addition, ACH services include, Atmore Urgent Care, ACH Family Physicians, ACH Primary Care, ACH Complete Care, ACH Therapy Services, and Atmore Community Home Care. ACH also offers programs and support to area citizens through health education. Please visit their website at