Rural hospitals aren’t the only Georgia medical facilities bleeding red ink.
Southern Regional Medical Center in Riverdale, near the world’s busiest airport, has been losing money since 2007. And in its last fiscal year, the loss was $20.6 million.
To help the nonprofit hospital stay afloat, Clayton County commissioners this week approved a package of special tax-funded projects that would bring in $50 million to help the 331-bed facility. The SPLOST has to be approved by voters.
“The hospital is in an untenable position if we do not receive community support,’’ Claudia Hall, director of marketing for Southern Regional, told GHN.
She and others say that a Medicaid expansion in Georgia would help the hospital as well.
Southern Regional Medical Center
Four rural hospitals in Georgia have closed in the past two years, citing financial struggles.
A closure of the much larger Southern Regional, just a short drive from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, would be a devastating financial blow to Clayton County. The hospital has 1,850 employees and more than 500 physicians and specialists on the medical staff. full story
Lower Oconee Community Hospital in southeast Georgia has closed due to financial problems, becoming the state’s fourth rural hospital to do so in the past two years.
The 25-bed “critical access” hospital in Glenwood, in Wheeler County, is looking to restructure, its CEO said in a statement.
Some of the hospital’s 100 employees have been laid off, CEO Karen O’Neal said, as reported by WMAZ. “This restructuring is being done to provide sustainable medical services in the Glenwood area.”
She told the television station Wednesday that the hospital’s owners are contemplating “some kind of urgent care center.’’
The closing of Lower Oconee reflects the financial struggles facing rural hospitals across Georgia. full story
WellStar Health System will gain access to the medical expertise of the renowned Mayo Clinic through a new partnership announced Thursday.
The dominant system in the northwest Atlanta suburbs, WellStar now becomes the second Georgia health care organization to join the Mayo Clinic Care Network. St. Francis hospital in Columbus announced a similar agreement last year.
WellStar officials told GHN on Thursday that the goal of the Mayo collaboration is to improve the care delivered to patients.
WellStar Kennestone Hospital in Marietta
“This is first and foremost about patient care,’’ said Dr. Robert Jansen, executive vice president and chief administrative medical officer of WellStar. Improved care leads to lower costs, he added.
The collaboration will allow WellStar physicians to consult with Mayo experts on complex medical cases. Doctors also will have access to Mayo medical information and guidelines through a Web-based resource created for health care providers.
The Mayo/WellStar partnership adds to the whirlwind of changes in health care, in Georgia and nationally, driven in part by the Affordable Care Act. full story
Disastrous. Unaffordable. “An abomination.”
These descriptions were part of the anti-Obamacare sentiments heard during a legislative hearing Monday at the Georgia General Assembly. The rhetoric echoed what was heard at town hall meetings in 2010 after Obamacare — officially known as the Affordable Care Act — was passed by Congress.
Rep. Jason Spencer
Tea Party and other activists opposed to the federal health law packed a small hearing room to listen to the arguments in favor of House Bill 707, sponsored by Rep. Jason Spencer (R-Woodbine). The bill would prevent state institutions and employees from implementing ACA provisions.
That would include the University of Georgia, where a unit of the school is providing navigators to help counsel consumers looking for coverage in the ACA-mandated health insurance exchange.
House Bill 707 also would bar Georgia from setting up its own health insurance exchange. The current exchange in Georgia, as in numerous other states, is run by the federal government.
The House Judiciary subcommittee did not hold a vote on the proposal.
Also Monday, the state Senate passed bills that would create a new agency for aging services, as well as establish a database on the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and related types of dementia in Georgia.
A House health panel, meanwhile, discussed a proposed revision to the state regulatory apparatus known as certificate of need (CON). Though little known to the public, the CON system plays a big role in whether health care facilities are built in Georgia. full story
Just hours before their current contract expired, Piedmont Healthcare reached agreement with Aetna/Coventry on a new three-year deal.
The agreement, announced Friday, means that many Aetna and Coventry members can still receive in-network rates from the five Piedmont hospitals, its outpatient centers and physicians.
If the contract talks had collapsed, many patients would have had two less-than-ideal choices: 1) find a new doctor, or 2) continue to get services from Piedmont’s hospitals or doctors, but on a more costly, out-of-network basis. full story