The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

January 14, 2013

Hospital CEO Powers touts local businesses

By Kim West

ATHENS — Kelli Powers is a major proponent of supporting local business, whether it’s a service station, clothing store or the emergency room at Athens-Limestone Hospital.

“It is so important to keep things locally, and I strive every day to tell people that if you can use Athens-Limestone Hospital, please use it,” said Powers, the hospital’s CEO since March 2010. “I buy my groceries locally and I buy all the clothes I can locally. I do everything I can, and I will drive here to get gas if I’m in Madison just keep the money local.

“And that’s really what it’s about in supporting our local hospital. That is our vision, for everybody to choose us. We also have a mission to provide quality health care to improve the health of those that we serve, and we do a lot in the community with health fairs, education and things like that.”

Powers gave a 30-minute presentation about the not-for-profit hospital during an Athens Rotary Club meeting at Athens State University on Friday.

ALH participates in a management agreement with Huntsville Hospital, which runs Madison Hospital, owns Decatur General Hospital and Parkway Medical Center.

“We’ve been affiliated with Huntsville Hospital since 2007, and they don’t own us,” she said. “I report to their CEO and the board. I think it’s a great thing because we can either be with them or without them, and so right now I think we have the best of both worlds. If I need them, they are there but they’re not over here all the time telling us everything we have to do.”

Powers said comparing the two hospitals is tricky because of the major difference in size. Huntsville Hospital is an 881-bed hospital that dates back to 1895, while Athens-Limestone is a 101-bed facility that opened in 1951.

“Currently we staff every day for 72 patients, and we have the ability to handle 101 patients,” Powers said. “Last week we had 80 and with the flu season we are getting closer and closer to 101. Being a small hospital is much different than being a big hospital like they are.

“They had 783 patients in their hospital this week — trying to deal with 783 patients as opposed to 80 patients is just so different … we just learn a lot from each other.”