Hutcheson Medical Center in Fort Oglethorpe will close its doors on December 4th, 2015. This is the fifth rural Georgia hospital to shut its doors since 2013.
The Hutcheson CEO, Farrell Hayes, declined comment Friday on the closure, referring GHN to the trustee appointed by a bankruptcy court judge to oversee hospital operations during its Chapter 11 reorganization. Trustee Ron Glass could not be reached for comment.
Hayes said Hutcheson has roughly 500 employees. It’s licensed for 179 beds, but industry officials say that it has only a small number of patients.
The nonprofit hospital recently laid off 58 employees and shut down its intensive care unit and other services, leaving just the emergency room and a few other units still functioning.
Jimmy Lewis, CEO of Hometown Health, an association of rural hospitals in the state, said Friday that the Hutcheson closure ‘’is a huge economic development event.’’ When a community loses a hospital, he noted, it becomes much harder to attract and retain businesses.
Hutcheson serves the northwest Georgia counties of Catoosa, Dade and Walker. In March 2014, the hospital said it employed about 900 employees and had an economic impact amounting to over $29 million in annual payroll.
I just find it astounding that there is little outrage by tax paying Georgians that the Medicaid tax dollars we pay to expand the “coverage gap” for uninsured people is not being returned to our state. An estimated 400,000 people in this state would be able to have health coverage if the Medicaid expansion existed in Georgia.
For this northwestern area of Georgia, some of the patients in need can go to medical facilities in the nearby Chattanooga area. For the areas in South Georgia were hospital closings have occurred there are few facilities to absorb these losses. I keep asking how can areas of the state attract new business without having available medical care?
It is all about politics in Georgia. The governor and state legislator would rather work hard to make the ACA fail rather than using the resources to help some of our most vulnerable citizens.