The Georgia Department of Community Health’s State Office of Rural Health recently announced that Habersham Medical Center will receive a $1 million grant from Governor Nathan Deal’s Rural Hospital Stabilization efforts.  

The Rural Hospital Stabilization Grant was created to identify the needs of community hospitals and provide potential solutions to help rural Georgians maintain local access to physicians and hospital services.  Two other hospitals, Upson Regional Medical Center in Thomaston and Miller County Hospital in Colquitt, also will receive $1 million each for their participation.

“Habersham Medical Center, like most community hospitals, has experienced its fair share of financial struggles,” says Jerry Wise, CEO of Habersham Medical Center.  “So, we are pleased to be selected for participation in this program.  Right now, we are busy evaluating and identifying programs that will have the greatest positive impact for financial improvement for Habersham Medical Center and the health of our communities that we serve.”

The pilot program initiatives are to:

  • curb overuse of rural hospital emergency departments for non-emergent care;
  • deliver care in the most appropriate setting, whether it be within a hospital’s scope of service or at another facility; 
  • coordinate care from one health care provider to another more effectively, and
  • increase community access using the most advanced health care technology for the strongest outcomes for our patients. 

“Also, as part of this program, we will be forming a Community Health Care Workgroup to gather input from our various community partners,” adds Wise.  “Using the Rural Hospital Stabilization Committee’s recommended “hub-and-spoke” model, Habersham Medical Center will serve as the “hub” of the project.  And, our “spokes” will be other health care providers in our coverage area like ambulance services, school nurses, nursing homes, public health departments, local physicians, and home health agencies.”

Governor Nathan Deal created The Rural Hospital Stabilization Committee in 2014, and the four Georgia hospitals selected as part of the first pilot or phase one were Appling Health System in Baxley, Crisp Regional in Cordele, Emanuel Regional Medical in Swainsboro, and Union General in Blairsville.  Phase one results are currently under review and phase two, with Habersham Medical Center’s participation, will begin on September 1, 2016 and end on June 30, 2018.

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