VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - The Cook County Medical Center is closing the doors to its emergency room in just a few weeks February 28th.
According to officials, Tift Regional Health Systems is consolidating Cook County's ER with the one in Tift County.
Cook County community members said they're worried about seeing the ER go.
"You might say my heart skipped a beat," Cook County resident Chris Newbern upon learning about the closing.
"Where would you go if you were in a real emergency?" Lee Jorner, Cook County resident, said with concern.
A feeling of worry is echoing throughout the Cook County community after learning the Cook County Medical Center emergency room is closing it's doors.
"I was kind of surprised," Jorner said, "I would never think that would happen, but it has."
Officials said the ER was losing millions of dollars; treating patients with minor illnesses.
Closing the ER in Cook County means money can be spent in ways that will better serve the community, according to hospital officials.
"We can use those funds we were investing in the emergency room in other areas such as women's health and primary care," explained Christopher Dorman, Tift Regional Health Systems COO
So now, the hospital will offer extended hours at a convenient care center, Cook Family Wellness Center, to help serve its community.
They said it's also a cheaper option for patients.
"When you come into an emergency room the cost of receiving care in an emergency environment is much higher than that of a primary care office," explained Dorman.
But folks in the community are still concerned that the nearest emergency room is quite the drive away.
"If we have to go 30-40 miles to get good care, that's not good. Not good at all," said Newbern.
However, officials said the emergency room in Cook County wasn't equipped to handle most emergency situations, and patients were sent by ambulance to other ER's that could handle their treatment.
"If you have chest pains and you feel like you're going to have a heart attack, you call 911 and you're transported to the nearest emergency room that can support that chest pain," said Dorman, "Cook Medical Center can't support that chest pain today. So folks are traveling to Tifton or Valdosta."
But concerns still ring throughout the community.
"Time is very precious and of the essence when you're waiting for an emergency unit to come," said Jorner.
"In a very serious situation like that seconds matter," echoed Newbern.