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An open letter to the people of Ware and surrounding counties…

A week ago, Mayo Clinic announced it was ending its relationship with Satilla Health Services in Waycross. (Here is a link to a GHN article

The following is written by a Satilla nurse, Jordan Strickland:

I was sick all last weekend after receiving news that Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, would be returning our Waycross, Georgia, hospital to local control. When I received the news last Friday, I was heartbroken. I worked for the hospital when it was Satilla Regional Medical Center and I worked for, and continue to work for, the hospital as Mayo Clinic Health System in Waycross.

Jordan Strickland

Jordan Strickland

I was excited with the direction in which our hospital was headed. I can remember being extremely scared, sad and anxious when Mayo Clinic took over. What changes would come? Who would have to leave … who would stay? As I sat there thinking at my desk on Friday of what Waycross would do now, a thought came to me.

I have worked in the Emergency Room in Waycross for almost five years. I started as a transporter for the ER and then worked my way up to nurse after receiving my LPN license through Altamaha Technical College in Jesup. About a year ago, I accepted a position as patient care coordinator for the Senior Behavioral Center, allowing new opportunities for myself and my family. After thinking about how I got to the seat I was sitting in, I asked myself, “Why are you in Waycross?” The words “teamwork,” “compassion,” and “dedication” came to mind.

Mayo Clinic did not make me a nurse. It did not instill in me at a young age the desire to love and care for others at all cost. Mayo Clinic did not wake me up every morning to walk into an ER full of the unknown, and the people at Mayo did not make me go back day after day. Mayo Clinic also did not make me choose to stay in Waycross. I did. I made these decisions myself, and I made them for many different reasons. full story

Shock as Mayo Clinic cuts loose Waycross hospital

Mayo Clinic’s startling decision to pull out of its “integration agreement’’ with Satilla Health Services has left the South Georgia hospital with an uncertain future.

Officials with Mayo’s Florida operation said Friday that they ended the deal with Satilla in Waycross to focus on expanding specialty care for people with complex medical needs.

Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville

Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville

Mayo said it will concentrate on building relationships with other providers through affiliation models, rather than acquisitions.

The Mayo pullout will return Satilla Regional Medical Center to the status of a standalone hospital at the very time when consolidation of health care facilities is accelerating, propelled partly by changes created under the Affordable Care Act.  full story

Feds vow flexibility on ramping up Medicaid

A top federal health official said Wednesday that his agency would welcome talks with Georgia leaders about any proposal resembling a Medicaid expansion plan.

smslogo“We’re open for business,’’ Andy Slavitt, acting administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told reporters during an Atlanta visit. The feds would be a “willing and eager partner’’ in such discussions.

Medicaid expansion, as outlined under the Affordable Care Act, extends the program’s coverage to more uninsured people. States must agree to this move, and Georgia’s political leadership has rejected expansion due to concerns about cost. Recently, though, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce launched a plan to study ideas about broadening Georgians’ access to care.

Separately, Slavitt also said CMS would be willing to look at a Medicaid “waiver’’ plan such as the one proposed by Atlanta’s Grady Health System, which seeks to cover more uninsured Georgians. He also emphasized that a waiver proposal would bring a different set of parameters and funding than an expansion-like plan. full story

State agency stays out of cancer hospital fight

A state agency has tabled a controversial proposal to eliminate state requirements for Cancer Treatment Centers of America’s hospital in Newnan.

Clyde Reese, commissioner of the Department of Community Health, said at the agency board meeting Thursday that the CTCA proposal had triggered a reaction from the Georgia hospital industry that was “overwhelmingly negative.”

Cancer Treatment Centers of America's hospital in Newnan.

Cancer Treatment Centers of America’s hospital in Newnan.

Given that response, Reese said, he decided his agency was “not the proper venue to vet the proposal.”

The Community Health’s board had been expected to vote Thursday on the plan.

If approved, the proposal would have allowed CTCA’s Georgia facility to reclassify as a general acute-care hospital — and thus shed the current restriction of having no more than 35 percent of its patients come from Georgia. full story

Another rescue of a Georgia hospital?

Prime Healthcare, fresh off its deal to save a struggling metro Atlanta hospital, has now targeted another Georgia hospital under bankruptcy protection.

California-based Prime told GHN on Wednesday that it has made a bid to acquire Hutcheson Medical Center, a northwest Georgia facility that’s about to close.

Hutcheson Medical Center

Hutcheson Medical Center

Hutcheson, in the small community of Fort Oglethorpe, has a heavy debt load and big financial losses, and the bankruptcy court judge issued an order for closure Dec. 4. If that happens, it would make Hutcheson the fifth rural Georgia hospital to shut its doors since 2013.

Prime Healthcare Services and the nonprofit Prime Healthcare Foundation own and operate 38 acute-care hospitals in 11 states. They are known for acquiring financially distressed hospitals and turning them around.

The foundation’s purchase of Southern Regional Medical Center is set for review by the Georgia attorney general, after a bankruptcy court issued its final approval order on the deal for the Clayton County hospital in late October. The AG is considered likely to agree to the sale, based on past cases. full story

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