A rural hospital in eastern Georgia has been saved from closure. Optim Medical Center-Jenkins, set to close this month, announced Monday that it has... Buyer emerges to save Millen hospital from closing

A rural hospital in eastern Georgia has been saved from closure.

Optim Medical Center-Jenkins, set to close this month, announced Monday that it has been sold to GA Medical Holdings Corp.

The 25-bed “critical access’’ facility in Millen in Jenkins County was due to merge operations with another hospital in the area. It would have been the seventh Georgia rural hospital to shut down since the beginning of 2013. Two of those that closed have been revived as medical facilities, but no longer function as full-fledged hospitals.

If a last-minute buyer had not been found, Optim-Jenkins would have merged with an Optim hospital in Sylvania in neighboring Screven County.

Like other rural hospitals, Optim Medical Center-Jenkins had cited declining reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid; decreased patient census; and needed upgrades to its infrastructure, as forcing the closure.

“Throughout the difficult process of having to close our doors, conversations with potential buyers continued,” Bob Sellers, CEO of Optim’s Jenkins and Screven facilities, said in a statement.

“Patient safety and quality care remained one of our highest priorities, and we have worked closely with members of the county commission as we found a way to provide a future for the hospital.”

The June 16 transfer of ownership allowed the Jenkins County hospital to maintain uninterrupted daily operations. A closure had been expected to eliminate 55 full-time and part-time positions.

Jenkins County

Terms of the sale were not disclosed, and relatively little is known about the buyer. According to the Georgia Secretary of State’s website, GA Medical Holdings is based in Sunrise, Fla., and its CEO is Aaron Durall.

“We appreciate Optim involving us in the process and tirelessly working to identify and find potential buyers that will allow for capital improvements and continuation of services,” said Jerry Henry, chairman of the Jenkins County Board of Commissioners.

Optim, which also includes a hospital in Tattnall County in southeast Georgia, is owned by National Surgical Healthcare, based in Chicago.

“We are committed to continuing to provide the highest-quality care,” said Earl Whiteley, interim administrator of the Jenkins County hospital, in a statement.

Jimmy Lewis of HomeTown Health, an association of rural hospitals in Georgia, said, “It’s always good to see a hospital survive.”

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Andy Miller

Andy Miller is editor and CEO of Georgia Health News

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