Southwest Georgia Regional Medical Center to close in Oct.
CUTHBERT, Ga. (WALB) - Southwest Georgia Regional Medical Center (SGRMC) in Cuthbert will shutter its doors in October, according to a release from the hospital.
SGRMC will close on Oct. 22, which the hospital said is based on current financial projections.
“This was a heartbreaking decision for the authority board to make. Unfortunately, it is one that could not be avoided,” said Steve Whatley, the Randolph County Hospital Authority chairman. “We love our community hospital, and we have done all we could to keep it open. Within a few months, our financial situation would be such that we would not be able to make payroll, and we have no choice but to cease operations.”
Before the COVID-19 crisis, the hospital was in “critical need” of major upgrades and renovations, the release states.
The hospital’s top officials tried for months to secure over $10 million in funding for the improvements.
“It has become increasingly difficult for small, critical access hospitals to survive in rural areas across the country and here in Georgia. SGRMC had been operating on the brink for years and before the COVID-19 crisis, we had not been able to finalize a workable plan to ensure the hospital’s future success. Once the crisis hit, it simply pushed our hospital past the point of no return,” CEO Kim Gilman said.
The authority is taking steps to ensure Randolph residents have access to health care, the release states.
“We are committed to keeping Randolph Medical Associates family medicine clinic open by partnering with a qualified operator. That would allow us to continue to provide the convenient, quality primary care and chronic disease management services that are so vital for our community,” Whatley said.
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital has managed all three of the Randolph County Hospital Authority’s facilities since 1996, the release states.
Approximately 90 employees will be needed for the continued operation of the Joe-Anne Burgin Nursing Home and family medicine clinic. Whatley said the closure of the hospital will free up resources to allow the nursing home to stay open.
Around 50 employees will be impacted by the hospital closure, and Phoebe “has committed to placing as many of those people as possible within the Phoebe health system,” the release states.
“Without Phoebe’s guidance and investment, we would have had to close our hospital years ago. We appreciate our partnership with Phoebe and their willingness to minimize the economic impact of the hospital’s closure on our small community, by offering employment to our dedicated hospital staff,” Whatley said.
The release also states the COVID-19 pandemic has made the county’s rural health crisis worse.
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