Wednesday, January 22, 2014

'We're creating death,' hospital boss says after Ga. legislator says some rural hospitals should close

UPDATE: Cooper "said Wednesday that closing rural hospitals is an 'unthinkable proposition' and 'would have serious consequences on the affected community, hurting it economically and limiting access to acute care for Georgians'," the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Rep. Sharon Cooper
Hospitals in rural Georgia have struggled to stay open, with three closing last year, and another 15 in danger of shutting their doors this year. About 200,000 people in Georgia, which is not expanding Medicaid under federal health reform, depend on those 15 hospitals. But Rep. Sharon Cooper, a Republican from Marietta, and the chair of the House Health and Human Services Committee, told WABE-FM in Atlanta this week, "There are some of those rural hospitals that need to close."

Cooper added: “When your census is that low and you have hospital administration and you have to have 24 hour-a-day care and you have to have a pharmacy and all the other things that go with a hospital and your census runs at just minute number of patients then I think it’s time to look at the fact that maybe they need to go to regional hospitals. Often small hospitals are an employer in the area, and you certainly feel sorry if one of them closes for the people that work there. . . . Having an emergency room where you can take somebody if they’re having an allergic reaction to peanuts could save a life and that’s certainly important … but on the other hand, if you’re a small hospital, to do anything major, you have to be transferred to a regional hospital and you get better outcomes where people, if you have some kind of heart surgery, something like that, put a stent in, you’re better off in an area where they do a hundred stents a week then somewhere where there might be two or three.” (Read more)

It didn't take long for the other side to make its voice heard. Jimmy Lewis, CEO of Hometown Health, told Jon Shirek of 11Alive in Atlanta, "She's an urban legislator whose access is right down the block. These are rural constituents who have to drive 60 miles to get to a hospital. ... We have people to die, for as much as we limit access, and we are truly limiting access. We're creating death amongst the constituents of the state of Georgia. That's just not a good thing. ... We're looking at creating third-world conditions by the losses of these hospitals, and we've already lost three, and we've got 10 to 15 more that are in serious shape." (Read more)

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