EARLY CO., GA (WALB) - A rural South Georgia hospital is celebrating after overcoming chapter 11 bankruptcy.
LifeBrite Hospital Group took control of the hospital and nursing home in Early County from Pioneer Health Services officially on Wednesday.
It now takes the name LifeBrite Community Hospital of Early and includes a 25-bed critical access hospital and 117-bed nursing home.
Walking into the hospital things might not appear different, but there are some significant changes.
Ginger Cushing is the hospital administrator. She's someone very familiar with both the hospital's past and operation.
"I started working here in 2008. I was a staff nurse in the emergency room," said Cushing as she recalled her first job in the building.
Cushing worked her way up, working under Pioneer after it took ownership in 2010.
Then, in March of 2016, the company went bankrupt, bringing Early County's hospital down with it in April.
"I just feel like maybe some of the other hospitals weren't performing as well," explained Cushing, who said she has nothing too bad to say about the company, as she was employed for them for many years. "I also feel like the electronic medical record, in combination with sequestration was just a triple whammy."
Cushing stepped into a leadership role at Early County's hospital during the bankruptcy period.
"This hospital has been able to hold it's own and if it weren't able to hold it's own, then we wouldn't have been able to have gotten through this and eventually be sold to a really good company," explained Cushing.
LifeBrite Laboratories, a company out of Atlanta officially took ownership of the hospital on Wednesday.
"They have some strategic plans and goals that I feel will make this hospital more efficient and profitable," said Cushing.
Some of those plans include having more on-site control, investing in an efficient medical record system, bringing in new technology and making the hospital a regional lab testing location.
LifeBrite Laboratories, has successful testing operations out of Atlanta.
Cushing said the company is hoping to use their Early County hospital as a testing site.
In the next few months, the lab will get a face lift, with new technology and hopefully new customers.
"Our lab only did laboratory testing for our physician office and for the patients in-house, the nursing home and emergency room. Now we're going to market to these other facilities and hopefully see the benefits from them," said Cushing.
Despite new ownership, Cushing said the hospital will continue to hold its small town values.
"If something doesn't go your way, I'm from Blakely, everyone knows me here. So they come to me and I try to fix it," explained Cushing.
The hospital did suspend the geriatric psychiatric unit during the bankruptcy, but they are hoping to get that unit up and running again.
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