Financial struggles put Evans Memorial Hospital in a bind

Financial struggles put Evans Memorial Hospital in a bind

CLAXTON, Ga. (WTOC) - Financial struggles have put the Evans Memorial Hospital in Claxton in a bind.

With the recent changes in the healthcare system, it has left the hospital with millions of dollars they can’t pay. They also provide care to under insured and uninsured, leaving their numbers off balance.

In a town of about 2,400 people, the city of Claxton is home to one of the biggest employers in Evans County. Evans Memorial Hospital has about 172 employees.

“This little hospital is a gem,” said Tamey Mitchell who relies on the hospital.

The entire county counts nearly 12,000 people, with the hospital being the heartbeat of it all. However recent financial troubles have put the hospital in a bind.

“We’ve had a decrease in our reimbursement from several insurance payers, those include some commercial payers as well as Medicare and Medicaid, also the increased medical costs have rose,” said Evans Memorial Hospital CEO Nikki NeSmith.

NeSmith says they recently had $51 million in charges, but even with the additional services and adding additional departments trying to increase their revenue, they have only had a net revenue of about $10 million, which is only 20 percent of the $50 million charges they owe; meaning they’re only getting 20 cents to the dollar.

“Our payer meets has changed and what that means is rather than getting a lot of commercially insured people that are coming to this hospital, we’re getting a lot more of the under insured, uninsured, or people with Medicare and Medicaid and how that has affected us is that the Medicare and Medicaid population we’re only getting about 20 percent of our cost for that.”

In a written letter from the hospital to Evans County commissioners, the hospital writes in part quote, “Due to the current financial status of the hospital, the Evans Memorial Hospital Board of Directors has notified the Hospital Authority of Evans County that they can no longer continue to operate Evans Memorial Hospital.”

The letter went on to list some of the things that would be needed in order to provide immediate and continued care to citizens.

“What we’re asking of the county is a million dollar subsidy in order to cash flow, this would help us to stay current with all of our vendors and continue to provide the care of the citizens here.”

“We do not want to lose our hospital, we desperately need our hospital,” said Mitchell.

For citizens like Tamey Mitchell, who has lived in Claxton for more than 40 years, the hospital is a big part of the community.

“PE is in my lungs. I was recently diagnosed a year ago and I was diagnosed with my doctor and my doctor sent me over here and it saved my life twice.”

NeSmith says they are mainly operating on their own but they do provide free care for people in the county who either don’t have insurance or are of a certain income level, but even still it’s hard to run a hospital if you’re not being reimbursed what is costs to run it.

We did hear back from the county administrator and they said they are currently reviewing the letter. There is a rural hospital tax credit which is a dollar for dollar tax credit donation.

You can make a donation and it won’t cost you a dime, as long as you have a Georgia state tax liability. Corporations can make donations as well and help save the Evans Memorial Hospital.

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