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New clinic a win-win for Florala, hospital

Florala area residents got perhaps the best community news they’ve had in three years on Monday when Andalusia Health formally confirmed what had been whispered as a possibility for two years: A new, walk-in health clinic for Florala.

Since Florala Memorial Hospital closed on New Year’s Eve in 2013, the community has had only one primary physician practicing in the town. It was a goal of both the previous and current administration to remedy the shortage of health care in some way.

Andalusia Health CEO John Yanes said Monday the clinic will be staffed by a team of nurse practitioners supervised by physicians, and will include several employees who either have Florala roots and/or previously worked in health care there. Services offered will include routine vaccinations, evaluation and treatment of common illnesses, medical conditions and minor injuries.

That is great news for both the quality of life, and the local economy. First, it must be comforting for local residents to have access to basic health care. No one who is sick wants to endure the inconvenience of travel, and many health care issues that require long-term, maintenance check-ups and care can also be handled locally. If those patients are seen at home, they are more apt to keep their dollars at home, filling prescriptions in the local pharmacy, and dining in a local restaurant.

The move is good for the hospital in that the natural alliance between the clinic and hospital will likely mean more patients are referred there rather than across state lines. Andalusia Health has worked hard to establish itself as a regional health care facility providing specialist care in many areas of medicine.

We echo the sentiments of those attending the Florala Council meeting Monday night when the announcement was made: They broke out in applause.