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Ala. community eyes stand-alone emergency room

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HARTSELLE, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama community is interested in seeing if a stand-alone emergency room could treat local residents after losing its only hospital.

Hartselle Mayor Don Hall has watched with interest as the first stand-alone emergency room in Alabama broke ground this week near Birmingham. His community, south of Decatur, has lobbied Huntsville Hospital to re-establish some medical care locally.

Huntsville Hospital bought the Hartselle Medical Center Hospital after it closed several years ago. The new owner announced it was not practical to reopen the facility, leaving Hartselle with no hospital or emergency room.

"We need some just basic care, after hours, to treat a lot of situations that come up from an accidental cut to car wreck, just get them stabilized and ready to go someplace else," Hall told (http://bit.ly/1lqWzjG ) WHNT-TV.

Several states, including neighboring Georgia, have experimented with offering stand-alone emergency rooms in communities without a hospital.

One possibility is shaping up near Birmingham, where state officials have licensed Alabama's first free-standing emergency department. The facility will cost an estimated $13.5 million and offer 10 treatment rooms and a trauma center. Hall said the regulatory decision to allow the facility in Birmingham could one day open the door for a smaller but similar facility Hartselle.

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Information from: WHNT-TV, http://whnt.com/

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