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Hartselle Enquirer

Hospital care on vacation

By Clif Knight

If we have a choice, we’d stay as far away from hospitals as possible while on vacation. Geanell didn’t have a choice when we were on vacation in Fork Morgan on the Gulf Coast last week.

She was struggling to get her breath when I woke up at 3:30 a.m. on Monday.

“I can’t breathe,” she said, as I rushed to her side. “You’d better call an ambulance. I need to go to the closest hospital.”

A close friend, a retired nurse, and a friend of the first cousin we were staying with came to the rescue. She dialed 911, was told an ambulance was on its way and would be enroute to an emergency medical center in Gulf Shores 22 miles away.

An ambulance arrived in approximately 15 minutes and was on its way to the ER in about 25 minutes. After her vital signs were stabilized, she was transferred to South Baldwin Medical Center in Foley, 10 miles north on Highway 59 at 11 a.m.

The Gulf Shores ER is about one year old and is similar to the one being sought for Hartselle by Cullman Regional Medical Center.

A single room was waiting for Geanell when she arrived at South Baldwin, where she was attended by two hospitalists, medical techs, nursing staff and support personnel.

The room was equipped with a three-seater upholstered bench and an adjustable lounge chair.

The hospital fronts on a heavily traveled highway and is inconvenient to visitors due to an addition under construction. My visits required about a mile of walking from where I parked to room 162 of 177 where Geanell stayed. I did manage to catch a ride on a shuttle car from where I parked to the front entrance of the hospital.

Aside from three-missed vacation days, the information Geanell and I received about Gulf Shores and Foley’s medical services was worthwhile for anyone vacationing there.

Having an ER close by is workable even if you have to go a few more miles to get a hospital room. The medical personnel are caring and professional at South Baldwin and the food service is excellent.