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Hospital District Giving 90-Day Termination Notice to HMH

Ella Smither building going up for sale

by Walker County News Today staff

The Walker County Hospital District’s Board of Managers met midday on Tuesday for a special session.  Turnout for the meeting was so large that the meeting was moved from the district’s office to a larger room in the building to accommodate the nearly two dozen spectators.

The nearly three-hour meeting was taken up with only three issues:

Huntsville Memorial Hospital

The District voted to give a 90-day termination notice letter to Huntsville Memorial Hospital.  Citing “certain breaches” of the current operating agreement between the two parties, the WCHD will give HMH ninety days to correct the breaches or terminate the agreement. The vote came after an extended closed executive session which lasted over an hour.

The WCHD, which owns the hospital building, has had an operating agreement with Walker County Hospital Corporation d/b/a Huntsville Memorial Hospital to operate the facility since 2013.  The district did not provide a copy of the current operating agreement or give any information on the specifics of how HMH had violated the agreement

The measure narrowly passed with only three of the five board members (Anne Woodard,  Judy Emmett and Dr. David Toronjo) voting in favor; Jerry Larrison voted to oppose; and Dr. Curtis Montgomery abstained from voting.

Though there was almost no discussion about the measure during the public portion of the meeting, Woodard did comment after the vote was taken, “The District is very committed. We feel that the Hospital Corporation Board in the last few days has been extremely vocal with us, in a very good way, and wants to try to work a lot of things out and we are very willing to step along side of them and work on things. So we are committed to this hospital.”

Ella Smither property

The old Ella Smither building, which has been vacant for years, will finally go up for sale.  In a unanimous vote the board decided to put the 6.324 acres up for sale via a sealed bid process. The board reported that they have had the property appraised and will conduct the sealed-bid process with a minimum bid requirement of $2M.  The appraisal has not been made public.

After a second closed session to review an offer from the City of Huntsville to purchase the property, the board reconvened and voted to take no action on the city’s offer.

District Staff

The board unanimously voted to begin the process for hiring a part-time administrator for the District.  The district will begin advertising the position and interviewing candidates, but salary specifics were not set.


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