GA governor launching plans to improve rural health care access

By: staff
By: staff

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

ATLANTA (WRDW) - Gov. Nathan Deal is partnering with the Department of Community Health to implement changes to rules and regulations affecting rural hospitals.

Today, he announced three new proposals to improve health care access in rural areas of the state.

“Rural hospitals are struggling financially and have been for many years; we have witnessed a handful of them close in recent times,” Deal said. “When they shut their doors, it’s not only bad for health care access but also for the local economies. In many instances, a rural hospital is the largest employer in a community, and it’s difficult to attract new jobs to an area lacking this key quality-of-life ingredient. These important reforms will help rural hospitals stay operational and continue providing at least the most essential services to their communities, rather than shutting down entirely.”

The proposed modifications will allow rural hospitals to offer fewer services if they are in danger of closing, or if they have closed within the past year. These freestanding health care facilities will provide emergency services to stabilize and transfer patients to full service hospitals located no farther than 35 miles away.

The rural facilities can also opt to offer elective outpatient surgeries, basic OB/GYN services, and procedures that do not require an operating room.

In junction with the proposal, Deal is establishing a Rural Hospitals Stabilization Committee to identify needs of rural hospital communities and provide potential solutions. There will also be a designated employee at the Department of Community Health to serve as a contact for rural hospitals.

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