Freestanding emergency departments have been proposed in Georgia as a potential solution for struggling rural hospitals, or newly closed ones, that want to remain operational in downsized form to help patients in need.
Freestanding EDs are actually proliferating in suburban areas, targeting high-income patients who have private insurance, said Charles Horne of accounting firm Draffin & Tucker. The prevailing emphasis is on patient convenience, not need, he told committee members at a meeting in Cordele.
Earlier this year, Gov. Nathan Deal backed a change in state licensing rules that would permit a stand-alone emergency department and some other services in rural areas that have a financially ailing – or closed – hospital.
But so far, no organization has applied to create such a facility in the state.
Meanwhile, four rural hospitals have closed in the past two years in Georgia, and others are having severe financial problems. full story