RMC to begin construction on new Roanoke facility
by Patrick McCreless
pmccreless@annistonstar.com
Nov 20, 2012 | 4090 views |  0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Regional Medical Center will soon begin construction of a new health center in Roanoke, expanding medical care to the underserved rural area.

The Anniston-based hospital will begin construction next week on the $2.5 million facility in Roanoke. The groundbreaking was briefly discussed during RMC’s regular board meeting Monday.

The 10,000 square-foot rural health clinic will be located near the intersection of U.S. 431 and old Highway 431 in Roanoke. Construction is scheduled to last between eight and nine months.

“It is an exciting thing … we have finalized the plans,” said Greg Kernion, chairman of the RMC board.

The facility will replace another rural health clinic at Roanoke, which RMC purchased last year, saving it from closing. Rural health clinics tend to treat more poor and elderly patients in underserved rural areas while providing better Medicaid reimbursements to physicians.

The previous operators of the clinic had to file bankruptcy after Randolph Medical Center closed in April last year. RMC, looking to expand its reach and find new sources of revenue, spent $450,000 to buy the clinic. Without the clinic, area patients would have had to travel to the southern end of Randolph County or the northern end of Chambers County to receive any type of care.

After the purchase, RMC began expanding services at the facility, including adding more personnel. RMC CEO David McCormack said business at the facility has increased 15 percent since his hospital took it over.

“But now we’ve got to move out into a bigger facility where patients can get better service,” McCormack said.

McCormack said RMC plans to add more personnel, urgent care and imaging services to the new facility.

“They really have no imaging services out there,” McCormack said.

Dale Quinney, executive director of the Alabama Rural Health Association, said the facility will be a boon for the Roanoke area.

“The entire rural health clinic program is a great program,” Quinney said. “They can’t replace a hospital because they don’t have an emergency department … but they provide much primary care.”

Quinney said there are currently around 80 rural health clinics in Alabama. Facilities that get certified as rural health clinics receive extra Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements. Due to the extra reimbursements, such clinics have been expanding rapidly across the state during the last three years, Quinney said.

Quinney said rural health clinics are particularly important, due to the decrease in rural care and rural hospitals around the state in recent years. Currently, eight rural counties have no hospital at all. Quinney said the lack of sufficient Medicaid reimbursements is the underlying cause of disappearing rural medical care, particularly prenatal care.

“With Medicaid, you’re getting between 70 and 75 percent of the actual cost of deliveries,” Quinney said. “We’ll either have to increase the number of births in hospitals or increase reimbursements.”

Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.
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