Struggling to stay afloat financially, a northwest Georgia rural hospital has opted to file for bankruptcy protection from its creditors.
Officials at Hutcheson Medical Center in Fort Oglethorpe said Wednesday evening that the filing would allow it to continue operations, restructure debt, and help protect it from a Chattanooga system’s effort to foreclose on the hospital’s property.
Erlanger Health System has tried to recoup about $20 million it loaned Hutcheson as part of a management agreement.
The bankruptcy action came just hours before Gov. Nathan Deal’s Rural Hospital Stabilization Committee met in Lavonia on Thursday at Ty Cobb Regional Medical Center — another rural hospital experiencing severe financial challenges.
The panel heard speakers outline the depth of the state’s rural health care crisis.
Four rural hospitals have closed in Georgia over the past two years. Jimmy Lewis of HomeTown Health, an organization of rural hospitals, told the committee that 15 more facilities are “financially fragile.” Six of those, he said, “could go tomorrow due to low cash.”
“We’re approaching Third World care in the state of Georgia,’’ Lewis said.
More than 40 Georgia counties lack obstetrical providers, and just 75 of 180 hospitals in the state have labor and delivery units, Pat Cota of the Georgia OB/GYN Society told panel members. full story