ATHENS, Ala. – The Huntsville Hospital Health System announced on Wednesday it took steps toward developing a 40 year lease agreement strengthening the relationship with Athens-Limestone Hospital.
“Athens Limestone Hospital was the first hospital in the region to join our System, said Phil Bentley, Huntsville’s chairman of the board. “The new lease agreement won’t look much different from the relationship that we have had [since 2007], except that we’ll assume all liabilities for the hospital. It will also enable us to consider investing more of our resources there,” Bentley said.
Huntsville Hospital Health System officials say this agreement is similar to what is done with Decatur Morgan Hospital and with Helen Keller Hospital in Sheffield.
Steve Smith, chairman of the Athens-Limestone Health Care Authority, says the lease was the best option considering the economic challenges facing small hospitals today. “There are many uncertainties with tax support, with payments from Medicaid and Medicare, and with overall economic pressures. It just makes sense to enhance our relationship with Huntsville Hospital,” he said.
The President of Athens-Limestone Hospital says the new relationship will be invisible to most people.
According to the agreement, Athens-Limestone Health Care Authority’s future responsibilities will be to manage the lease agreement. Pryor said that an Athens advisory board would be appointed by Huntsville Hospital’s board and would likely include some members of the current ALH board along with several physicians. The agreement is effective January 1, 2016.