New Program to Provide Emergency Funding to Rural Hospitals

Dave Williams

Friday, January 19th, 2024

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A nonprofit health-care organization announced plans Wednesday to help financially struggling rural hospitals in Georgia in danger of closing.

Ohio-based CareSource will contribute $5 million in emergency funding to hospitals and hospital-owned nursing homes in rural communities suffering critical cash deficits. Working in partnership with Cumming-based HomeTown Health, which represents rural hospitals across Georgia, the CareSource Rural Access Advancement Program will provide bridge loans to be repaid and reinvested into the program once the recipient has stabilized.

Since 2010, nine rural hospitals have closed in Georgia, third-most in the nation.

“These closures have devastating effects on the communities they serve,” CareSource President Jason Bearden said during a news conference at the state Capitol. “Residents are left without access to emergency services or preventive care.”

HomeTown Health CEO Jimmy Lewis said closed hospitals also hurt the economies in rural communities that rely on them for employment and as a magnet to help attract jobs. He said the program aims to get help to struggling rural hospitals before it’s too late to save them.

“The whole intent is to identify problem hospitals enough in advance that we don’t have to make quick decisions,” Lewis said.

“This is another step toward stabilizing health care in rural Georgia,” added Jonathon Greene, CEO of Taylor Regional Hospital in Hawkinsville.

CareSource serves more than 450,000 Georgians and has members in eight states in the South and Midwest.