Regional Medical Center’s board of directors met Wednesday to discuss Jacksonville’s hospital, according to one member, but what the board decided, if anything, wasn’t revealed.
The meeting comes after weeks of rumors that the hospital was on the verge of closure, which RMC officials have repeatedly denied.
After the meeting ended, The Star learned from board member Jay Jenkins that members had convened in the conference room at the main RMC building in Anniston, but Jenkins declined further comment. Typically, meetings are held next door in the Professional Building in a clearly labeled boardroom. That’s where reporters waited for board members Wednesday, and where a table of potato chips, cookies, tea, sodas and ice — laid out as if for a meeting — went untouched.
Board member Sandra Sudduth, who’s also president of the Jacksonville City Council, had said Wednesday afternoon that there would be a called meeting at 5 p.m. concerning RMC Jacksonville.
In messages to The Star after the meeting ended, RMC board chairman Billy Grizzard declined to talk about what had happened, but said he would meet with a reporter Thursday morning to discuss the issue in detail.
“I’ve heard rumors that we’re going to close the hospital in two weeks or in June,” Grizzard said then. “None of it is true.”
Anniston-based RMC has owned the Jacksonville hospital since 2013.
Meanwhile, Buffy Lockette, spokeswoman for Jacksonville State University, said there would likely be an announcement Thursday regarding the relationship between the hospital and the university.
Some rumors about the closure also alleged that JSU planned to take control of the hospital for use by its school of nursing. Lockette previously said there was nothing going on between JSU and the hospital.
“Our position has somewhat changed since then,” Lockette said. “We expect to be making an announcement tomorrow.”
Lockette declined to elaborate on what would be announced.
The JSU nursing program has had a presence at the hospital for years. The program started a simulation center in 2016 at the Brookstone Physician Center next door to the hospital. Also, nursing students have rotated through the hospital for clinicals in the past.
RMC Jacksonville is a 104-bed, acute care hospital with a 24-hour emergency room. Since buying the hospital, RMC has made several changes there.
Administrators closed its intensive care unit in 2013 and ended OB-GYN services in 2014, saying it was because of high cost and lack of demand.
Meanwhile, officials added beds at RMC Jacksonville in 2016 to treat more elderly patients with mental health and behavioral symptoms.
RMC announced in December 2012 that it was buying the hospital, then Jacksonville Medical Center, for $6 million. The hospital was previously owned by private Tennessee-based firm Capella Healthcare.
The hospital opened in 1976 as Jacksonville Hospital under city of Jacksonville’s ownership. The city sold the hospital in 1996 for $15.3 million and used the money to help build Jacksonville High School.
At the time of the purchase, RMC officials said having the extra beds and patient volume would help increase revenue. RMC bought the operating contract for Stringfellow Memorial Hospital in Anniston last year for the same reason.