LaFayette Sun News

Inpatient services discontinued at Valley hospital

By John Brice

Unwelcome news for residents of Chambers County was delivered in a public statement from East Alabama Health Care which announced that inpatient medical services would no longer be available at EAMC-Lanier Hospital in Valley.

According to the statement “Officials from East Alabama Health have submitted an application to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requesting that EAMC-Lanier be designated as a Rural Emergency Hospital.”

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services are described on their official website as “the federal agency that provides health coverage to more than 160 million through Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the Health Insurance Marketplace.” Providing context on the REH designation, CMS states on their website “On November 23, 2022, we published a final rule, effective January 1, 2023, establishing initial policies for Rural Emergency Hospitals (REHs) as a new Medicare provider type enacted in the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) of 2021.”

“REHs are prohibited from providing inpatient services” is the key statement from that article on the CMS website which clarifies the path going forward for EAMC-Lanier.

Disappointment with the news was palpable in the reactions on social media from Chambers County residents who voted on Election Day 2022 to renew their payment of an ad valorem tax to support the hospital in Valley. Since that tax had first been established several years prior, citizens of Chambers County have paid $8.7 million to East Alabama Health Care between 2014 through 2021 to keep the Valley hospital open without any service cuts.

Skepticism over the public relations push by EAMC in the runup to the 2022 referendum was reflected in a loaded question from one commenter who asked “Wonder if they will remove the ad valorem tax that was voted in to save the hospital?” which prompted the response from another commenter “they should it but bet it will not …but EAMC appreciated it greatly. Not to mention I think this was the plan all along….so sad.”

Further conversation was explored with a commenter remarking “Good point. I hope EAMC keeps it open for at least outpatient and emergency services. I am not surprised. But very sad that we are losing our hospital a little piece at a time.” which in turn received the reply “yep…but they have been slowly removing services a little at a time..Lanier is just a shell of what it use to be.”

Melancholy was a consistent theme in the comments, with one noting “I agree. It started when they removed OB services so no more babies were born in Chambers County. So sad.” to which a commenter expressed suspicion “they won’t…that was what EAMC was waiting to happen before they bought out Lanier…they did it right after the vote to approve that tax.”

2 Replies to “Inpatient services discontinued at Valley hospital

  1. Well it will make a great emergency room and nursing home. The extra hospital rooms should be a nursing home for Veterans only. They sure earned that right.

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