Deal plan would allow rural-mini hospitals
By Andy Miller
March 19, 2014
In the wake of some recent closures of rural Georgia hospitals, Gov. Nathan Deal announced Wednesday an initiative to help such facilities survive tough financial times.
Deal, speaking to the Rural Caucus of the General Assembly, said he is proposing a change in licensure rules that would allow a struggling rural hospital - or one that has recently closed - to offer downsized services that would include an emergency department.
Such a facility could also provide childbirth services and some kinds of elective surgery, he said.
Four rural hospitals in Georgia have closed in the past two years, and a total of eight have folded since 2000.
"Every Georgian deserves [to be] reasonably close to a health care provider should an emergency arise,'' Deal said. "We're taking steps to try to remedy this shortcoming."
"Communities should not have to go without crucial services - many of them lifesaving - simply because they fall in a rural ZIP code,'' Deal said.
Besides increasing the medical risk to people, a hospital closure also devastates a rural area's economy, he noted.
The downsizing licensure change would not require legislation, Deal said.