State OKs creation of 40-bed long-term acute care facility at Athens-Limestone Hospital


 ATHENS, Alabama – Athens-Limestone Hospital officials got state approval Thursday to add 40 beds for long-term acute care, which would make it the only facility of its type between Birmingham and Nashville, a hospital official said.

The State Health Planning and Development Agency issued a Certificate of Need for the new facility, which is expected to be completed within the year, said the hospital’s chief financial officer, Randy Comer.

“Once established and operational, this will provide patients with the opportunity to have family closer to them as currently the nearest LTAC is in Birmingham or Nashville and is inconvenient for day travel,” Comer said.

The facility at Athens-Limestone Hospital, expected to cost about $9.6 million, will specialize in treating long-term chronic conditions with the goal of transitioning patients to skilled-nursing care or home, if possible.

“This facility will treat patients who need more critical care than a skilled nursing facility normally provides, but over a longer period of time than a normal acute care facility provides,” Comer said. “Admissions will come from facilities across North Alabama, as well as Athens-Limestone Hospital itself. We are looking to establish this facility as a wing in our hospital and are looking at partners who specialize in this type of facility to actually run the day-to-day operations.”

Comer said the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services placed a moratorium on establishing new long-term acute care facilities a few years ago.

“However, this moratorium is expected to be lifted at the end of this month,” he said.

Currently, Athens-Limestone Hospital, a Huntsville Hospital affiliate, has 101 beds and is run by CEO Kelli Powers.

Recently, hospital officials completed renovation of the emergency room, as well as renovating the front lobby and its nursery, and installing a hospital-wide sprinkler system. 

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