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PCI, ECHA negotiate hospital land swap

Atmore News has confirmed from several sources that Poarch Band of Creek Indians and Escambia County Healthcare Authority have negotiated a land swap that will result in a new hospital being built in almost the same location as originally planned.

According to the sources, the agreement calls for Poarch to give ECHA 10 acres along Alabama 21, just a few hundred yards south of Atmore’s Rivercane retail and industrial park. In return, ECHA will give Poarch the 10 acres on which Atmore Community Hospital currently sits.

Sharon Delmar, PCI’s public relations liaison, confirmed today (Thursday, July 25) that the land swap came about Monday, July 22, during a meeting between tribal officials and former ECHA Chair Nancy Lowrey, who now serves as the authority’s treasurer.

“This was discussed Monday at a workshop with Tribal leadership and the Escambia County Healthcare Authority Treasurer, Nancy Lowrey,” Delmar said. “The Tribe agreed to give the authority land near the casino and in return the authority stated that they would be willing to do a land swap and give the property in Atmore to the Tribe.”

Atmore Mayor Jim Staff, who has lobbied in favor of a city council donation of 10 Rivercane acres for construction of the new medical center, said he was glad the community wouldn’t eventually be left without a hospital.

“I’m just relieved that we’re not going to lose it,” Staff said. “The city is out of it now, but the main thing is, we won’t be losing our hospital. They (Poarch officials) understand that it was move it or lose it, or that’s what the folks (paid consultants) were saying.”

The land donation issue has come before Atmore City Council members three times, but city governors failed to vote on the matter on any of those occasions.

Debbie Rowell, who chairs the healthcare authority, said she was not fully aware of the details but has been led to understand that the deal will be consummated.

“I wasn’t at the meeting at Poarch, but I understand that we (ECHA) and Poarch are in agreement to swap land to put the hospital on Alabama 21, near Rivercane,” Rowell said. “I understand, too, that the tribe will get the Atmore community Hospital property. I really know nothing more that that at this point.”

Staff said the hospital land is currently a cow pasture that abuts the city limits and is in its police jurisdiction.