House Bill 769 helps rural hospitals

House Bill 769 helps rural hospitals
Phoebe Sumter is one of the rural hospitals in South Georgia that will benefit from House Bill 769. ( Source: WALB)
Phoebe Sumter is one of the rural hospitals in South Georgia that will benefit from House Bill 769. ( Source: WALB)
CEO Brandi Lunneborg hopes the bill can provide more funding to the hospital. (Source: WALB)
CEO Brandi Lunneborg hopes the bill can provide more funding to the hospital. (Source: WALB)

AMERICUS, GA (WALB) - A new state law is helping rural hospitals in South Georgia with their financial needs and it will go into effect on July 1.

The concept is to help patients in rural areas who live a distance from a major hospital with local clinics and healthcare services.

Phoebe Sumter in Americus helps patients in eight surrounding counties, including Sumter, Macon, and Taylor counties.

Some patients have to travel up to 45 minutes to the hospital in Americus.

With House Bill 769, Phoebe Sumter is planning to focus on local clinics that can better serve areas that don't have a close hospital nearby.

"Our goal is to try to provide as much of their regular doctors' visitors in their local communities so they don't have to travel," said Phoebe CEO Sumter Brandi Lunneborg.

When patients visit their local clinics, Phoebe Sumter can provide better care at their main hospital for life-saving surgeries and other serious health care needs.

Rural hospitals are known for a physician turnover rate due to the demands of helping so many patients with various needs.

Phoebe Sumter also hopes the bill will provide additional funding to better serve their patients needs.

Lunneborg said: "We could receive up to four million dollars and that is a huge amount of money for any organization. It will allow us to upgrade facilities, add programs, funds, various things. It depends on what the needs are. For us, that is just adding new services and supporting capital replacement."

Phoebe Sumter is thankful for the funding they have already received which they used to build a brand new $127,000 cardiac rehabilitation center to help patients to better recover from heart attacks.

Since 2013, six rural Georgia hospitals have closed, and lawmakers hope this bill will improve the quality of health care in many Southwest Georgia counties.

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