Building codes force Decatur Morgan Hospital to close 161 rooms and re-open Parkway Hospital


Top 3 floors of this wing of Decaur Morgan Hospital will close because of building codes. (Photo: Al Whitaker, WHNT News 19)

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.
Data pix.

DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) - Somewhat of an emergency at Decatur Morgan Hospital. They're going to lose roughly 59-percent of their available rooms. The hospital was in the midst of a major renovation project when they discovered what it would cost to bring an existing wing of the hospital up to current building codes.

If they had left it alone, the building would still meet the standards and codes that were in place the last time they did renovations, some 15 years ago. But the codes have changed since then. Just recently the hospital learned the renovation project now underway would require them to bring another part of the building up to today's code, and they say that's simply too expensive.

Hospital officials say the problems just recently came to light during a major renovation project that's been on-going here at the main campus of Decatur Morgan Hospital.

"So we hired some engineers and had them come in and take a look at the specific areas we had concerns about and when their report came back, it was a lot of money we would have to spend to bring that building up to code," according to Nathaniel Richardson Jr., President of Decatur Morgan Hospital.

In fact, the cost of the project would have jumped from $2.5 million to approximately $45 million. So the top three floors of the wing will be closed. That means Decatur Morgan will lose 161 or their 237 rooms. It also means they will re-open Parkway Medical Center Hospital.

"Parkway will get a little CPR and we're very fortunate that we had the Parkway campus so that we had a back-up in a situation like this," Richardson told WHNT News 19.

The Huntsville Hospital system owns both facilities and just closed Parkway earlier this year in an effort to bring more services under one roof and eliminate the duplication of services between the two hospitals. Richardson says they will still try to avoid duplication but he says some equipment, some staff and some physicians will have to move back to Parkway.

Work just resumed Monday on the renovation project at Decatur Morgan's main campus. It should be finished in october. But no word yet on which services will have to move back to Parkway or when that will happen.

Parkway Hospital had not completely closed. Their emergency room and sleep cliinic had remained open, along with several doctor's offices and clinics. but the last of their patients were moved over to Decatur Morgan back in March.

Richardson tells us the building is safe and was in compliance with building codes in effect as late as the last renovation of the building. He declined to specify specific problems with the structure. However the current project required them to bring the building up to current code. A hospital spokesperson says they have several options they are exploring regarding future use of the wing.