Evans hospital leaders weigh future - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Evans hospital leaders weigh future

EVANS CO., GA (WTOC) -

More than a dozen concerned citizens showed up at the monthly board meeting of Evans Memorial Hospital.

They had heard rumors and concerns the hospital will close. Some spoke of personal experiences where the local emergency room had saved their life or a loved one.

Lalah Kennedy was among those worried about the 160 plus employees who work there.

"This is one of the county's largest employers. What are these folks going to do? I'm as concerned for them as I am our healthcare," she said.

In the hour-long open meeting, hospital executives told the board and the public they're losing an average of $8,500 per day. It is a combination of causes, including reduced reimbursements from insurance, Medicare and Medicaid, but especially fewer paying customers using their local hospital and more going out of town.

"We have people come to us and tell us they had something done out of town because they didn't know we did, for example, mammograms, or this or that," explained CEO Martha Tatum.

Board chairman Carroll Anderson pointed out to the audience that the hospital, while started by the county, doesn't received any property tax revenues from the county.

But county commissioner Del Beasley, part of the audience, replied that the county does allocate roughly $120,000 per year to the hospital from sales tax revenues.

Beasley said commissioners would need to increase county taxes by ten mils to generate the money needed to offset annual losses.

"When you realize our millage rate now is only about eight mils, we would have to more than double it," he said.

Board members met behind closed doors with the hospital's attorney for more than two hours after that, taking no action afterward. However, Tatum said, they will continued to look at options, urgently.

"It's not an all-open or all-closed situation," she said. "We're looking at several possible stages that could keep aspects of the hospital open."

She said the board will meet with the medical staff Wednesday morning to explain the problems and possible solutions before they make any decisions.

Copyright 2014 WTOC. All rights reserved.

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