Town hall meeting held to discuss update on Evans Co. hospital

Town hall meeting held to discuss update on Evans Co. hospital

EVANS COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - Financial troubles continue to threaten Evans Memorial Hospital in Claxton, with nearly $51 million in recent charges.

Tuesday night a town hall was held to give residents a chance to ask questions and become more familiar with the current financial situation.

One by one residents in Evans County packed Eastside Baptist Church to discuss the future of Evans Memorial Hospital.

From rising healthcare costs, to decreased reimbursement, from all payers and even expensive medical equipment. Hospital CEO Nikki Nesmith says, things are simply not adding up.

“We do provide a lot of indigent care for this county. Evans County, as well as some surrounding counties, and so really what we’re asking for is for that money to subsidize for the care that’s provided that we’re not receiving any revenue or any funds for.”

In a town of about 2,400 people, the hospital is one of the biggest employers with about 172 employees, but even still that’s not enough.

“Our uninsured patients have increased. Uninsured four years ago was about 6 or 7 percent of our patients and now it’s about 10 or 11 percent of our patients have no insurance when they come to our hospital.”

Chief Financial Officer John Wiggins says their Medicare and Medicaid costs have also fallen far below state regulation costs. He says they are currently classified as a perspective payment system hospital through Medicare, which means they get a predetermined fixed amount for a Medicare in-patient stay, also know as a diagnosis related group or DRG.

“Our average DRG is about $7,000, so if we had a five day Medicare inpatient stay for that patient and that was a $10,000 cost, then we would lose $3,000 on that," said Wiggins.

Leaving residents wondering where the city and the county can cut costs.

“We don’t have a lot now," said one resident at the meeting. "I’m 50-years-old and I’ve been here all my life. We’ve had things to come, we as a county and city have turned those things away. So when we make this decision whatever that is, we’re not making the decision to save our hospital, we need to make a decision to save our county and our city.”

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