Ge­or­gia takes steps to keep ru­ral hos­pi­tals from clos­ing

Modern Healthcare - - REGIONAL NEWS - —Beth Kutscher

Ge­or­gia’s Repub­li­can Gov. Nathan Deal has launched a three-prong pro­posal to pro­tect the state’s ru­ral hos­pi­tals af­ter a num­ber of med­i­cal cen­ters have closed their doors.

The pro­pos­als would lower the bar for ru­ral hos­pi­tals to keep op­er­at­ing by al­low­ing them to of­fer fewer ser­vices while still keep­ing their li­cen­sure. Ru­ral hos­pi­tals that are in dan­ger of clos­ing or have closed in the past year can op­er­ate as free-stand­ing emer­gency de­part­ments that will be able to sta­bi­lize pa­tients un­til they can be trans­ferred to a full-ser­vice hospi­tal no more than 35 miles away.

The pro­posal also al­lows those hos­pi­tals to of­fer a limited num­ber of other ser­vices, such as elec­tive out­pa­tient surgery, cer­tain di­ag­nos­tic pro­ce­dures that do not re­quire an op­er­at­ing room and ob­stet­ri­cal ser­vices for un­com­pli­cated de­liv­er­ies.

It also calls for plac­ing a des­ig­nated point per­son for ru­ral hos­pi­tals in the state’s Depart­ment of Com­mu­nity Health, and es­tab­lish­ing a Ru­ral Hos­pi­tals Sta­bi­liza­tion Com­mit­tee.

The health depart­ment’s most re­cent hospi­tal fi­nan­cial sur­vey found that 55% of the state’s ru­ral hos­pi­tals had a neg­a­tive op­er­at­ing mar­gin in 2011, com­pared with 38% of state hos­pi­tals over­all.

Ge­or­gia, which is not ex­pand­ing Med­i­caid, has seen a num­ber of hospi­tal clo­sures over the past year, in­clud­ing last month when Lower Oconee Com­mu­nity Hospi­tal, a 25-bed crit­i­cal-ac­cess fa­cil­ity, shut its doors. Three other ru­ral hos­pi­tals in the state closed in 2013.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.