Expectant moms in Miller County are out of luck - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Expectant moms in Miller County are out of luck

May 2, 2007

Colquitt-- The Miller County Hospital recently announced they're shutting down their obstetric services- effective on May 18th. The hospital says its unavoidable, but local healthcare workers say otherwise.

Lisa Swofford, along with her huband Dr. Bill Swofford provide obstetric services to hundreds of expectant mothers in the area.  She says, "right now we have women who are driving an hour, hour and a half to see us because no one will take them and they can not get prenatal care or deliver elsewhere."

Swafford says unfortunately the trend for many Georgia hospitals lately is to close that service. Miller County is one of several rural area hospitals who've recently made that decision. 

Ray Henely, chairman of the Miller County Hospital Board says, "our hospital is a critical access hospital, one of thirty-five I believe in Georgia, there's three of them left delivering babies. Now there'll be two."

He says the closure is unfortunate, but its not financially feasible to staff the service 24 hours a day with as few babies as they deliver.  "We're just getting in a financial bind and we've got to cut out things that's not making money.  Or I'd say the things that are losing the most money," says Henley.

Dr. Bill Swofford insists there are other ways.   He says, "I personally showed them how they could make staff cuts, and other cuts and possibly improve billing and then not be losing money or not much money, possibly making money."

Henely says the hospital's just doing what it can to stay open.  "We're gonna close some things to try to keep other things open," Henley explains.

The Swoffords say with mother's having to drive so far to see their doctor, its prenatal care that will suffer.  "When prenatal care falls through, you miss complications and you have a rise in complications that could have been prevented if they were discovered early," says Lisa Swafford.

The Swoffords will continue to provide pre-natal care to their patients, but they'll have to find a new place to deliver the babies.

The hospital's C.E.O. says they're currently operating at a loss. In addition to closing the obstetrics department they're closing their satellite physician practice in Blakely, and will look at other chances to reach financial stability.


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