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Hartselle Enquirer
Rev. James Henderson has plans to turn the former Hartselle Medical Center into a Veteran’s nursing home to provide a place of shelter for area veterans. | Lauren Estes

Henderson has big plans for Hartselle Hospital

Lauren Estes

Hartselle Enquirer

An Army veteran and ministry worker, Reverend James Henderson has felt called to help turn Hartselle Hospital into a Veterans nursing home.

“The closest locations for veterans to go is in Huntsville or Pell City and Huntsville has a 10-month wait and Pell City has a two year wait,” Henderson said. “They need something local and the Hartselle Hospital is the perfect place. I talked with officials of the Huntsville Hospital who own the Hartselle center and they offered to five it to us. I couldn’t believe it.”

Hartselle Medical Center hosted 120 beds in it’s four-story, 90,000 square foot center. It will need to have renovations throughout the hospital, and Henderson said he contacted the Department of Veteran Affairs for information on the use of a grant to cover the cost.

“The Department of Veteran Affairs seems to not want to talk to me, and I’m trying to get a meeting with the commission,” Henderson said. ““I just need them to understand and know all that it takes to apply for this grant before April 15. I’ve got all the background information done, I’ve found the forms, and realistically it won’t be that difficult, it’s just about two pages. There are several attachments that have to be added to it to the application. I really feel like this is something that needs to be done.”

Henderson became heavily interested in this process after the need for a place locally for veterans, hit home.

“I’m doing this because a lady in my church at the time was trying to get her husband into the Huntsville Veteran Hospital but he actually passed away before they could get him in,” Henderson said. “I’m trying to get the word out in a positive and professional manner, but I will push if I have to. I want to see this through.”

His current goal is to get as many people informed about this effort as he can.

“One good piece of news, a good friend of mine is Mac McCutcheon and he is speaker of the House in Huntsville, he was emailed about this situation and then called me on Monday to discuss it,” Henderson said. “He told me that he was going to get right on it and meet with the Chiefs of the commit and then told me to come and see him on Thursday to see what we can do.”

Several angles will have to be observed in order for them to receive the grant, specifically to make sure they have enough veterans in need of this location.

“The main concern is the backlog, where the concentration will be, and if there is enough veterans in the area to fill the spots,” Henderson said. “That definitely won’t be a problem because the Huntsville has a backlog of about 150, and Birmingham has a major backlog as well. We have veterans needing this building. The need is there, we just have to get the state government involved to get it accomplished.”

Last Friday, Henderson, Representatives Robert Aderholt and Mo Brooks, Hartselle Mayor Randy Garrison and Director of Development Jeff Johnson toured the Sparkman Street facility with Decatur Morgan Hospital officials. Henderson feels he has the support of many locals, as well as the Morgan County Commission in seeing this project through.

“I talked with Chairman Ray Long and he told me they are excited about this,” Henderson said. “He told me that all of their commissioners would be behind this effort. ’m actually going to pro-life rally too and will be talking to the local legislatures there and really anyone who will listen. We are trying to get the word out about this need and goal. I just really need the support of the Department of Veteran Affairs, because truthfully, I don’t have a dog in the fight.”

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