UAB Medical West Medical Center

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A postcard view of the main entrance to the hospital in the late 1960's.

UAB Medical West or MedWest is a non-profit hospital located at 995 9th Avenue Southwest in Bessemer. The hospital was founded in 1964 as Memorial Hospital by the City of Bessemer.

Then mayor Jess Lanier had applied for grant funding for construction of a hospital since passage of the Hospital Survey and Construction Act of 1946 (Hill-Burton Act), co-sponsored by Senator Lister Hill. A $1 million grant was finally approved in 1962, which along with $800,000 in municipal bond funds authorized by city residents a few years earlier, provided enough money to move forward with planning a new 115-bed hospital.

Lanier met with a group of 20 doctors and architect Charles McCauley at the Holiday Inn-Bessemer on January 31, 1962. The modern-style building was planned with private and semi-private patient rooms rather than wards. Each room would have air conditioning and access to a central oxygen delivery system. An administrative board and a medical advisory committee were appointed to help plan for the design and equipping of the new facility.

In 1972-1973, the hospital found itself in financial trouble, as well as having trouble with employee relations. This left Lanier and other city officials looking to sell the hospital. Dr Ben Carraway soon came to the rescue, buying the hospital from the city of Bessemer. The hospital operated as an independent hospital under the name Bessemer Carraway Medical Center. The hospital was run by its own board of directors, that, while most members were also on the Carraway Methodist board of directors, was in fact completely independent of the Carraway Methodist board of directors.

After Carraway Methodist Medical Center entered financial straights in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the hospital was sold to the UAB Health System. The hospital's name was changed to "Medical West", and the familiar blue star was removed from the roof. Since then, UAB Health System has made a multi-million dollar expansion to the hospital, expanding offices and one-day surgery facilities.

In 2014, construction began on a free-standing emergency room for the hospital at the Crossings of Hoover shopping center on John Hawkins Parkway at Interstate 459 in Hoover. By 2018 UAB was actively discussing plans to replace the hospital at a projected cost of more than $400 million, while also reducing its size from 310 to 220 inpatient beds. A site near I-459, Exit 1 in McCalla was purchased.

Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato, citing an economic impact study, proposed offering up to $20 million in incentives to relocate the institution to its Trace Crossings development. Residents there did not support the proposal, which was not taken up by Hoover City Council. The hospital announced it was moving forward with the McCalla site in October 2018.

In 2021 UAB restructured the ownership of the existing medical center in order to qualify for a $358 million low-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which would help finance the proposed $575 new hospital. The existing building could potentially be converted into a mental health center.


  • Miller, Bill (February 1, 1962) "Advisers Asked For New Hospital" Birmingham Post-Herald, p. 28
  • Smith, Anita (1996) "Rescuing a Hospital in Bessemer". Chapter 18 in Culture of Excellence: A history of Carraway Methodist Medical Center, Volume II. Birmingham: Carraway Hospitals Foundation. pp 276-80
  • Anderson, Jon (October 14, 2013) "Hoover zoning board to consider new shopping center, Medical West ER at I-459 interchange." The Birmingham News
  • Koplowitz, Howard (October 25, 2018) "Bessemer, Hoover grapple over UAB Medical West’s future." The Birmingham News
  • Koplowitz, Howard (October 26, 2018) "UAB Medical West to move from Bessemer to McCalla." The Birmingham News
  • Enoch, Ed (April 10, 2021) "UAB Health System to purchase Medical West Hospital site as part of $51 million deal." The Birmingham News