ARLINGTON, Ga. — Financial challenges have gotten the best of Calhoun Memorial Hospital, which officially closed its doors Friday afternoon.
A contributing factor, said CEO Earl Whiteley, was the increase of charity care the hospital had offered over the last four years, which incrased from $834,000 in 2008 to $1.8 million in 2012.
"We couldn't continue to give care for free," Whiteley said.
The announcement of the hospital's closure came just days after officials with the Arlington facility said that it was going to have a reduction in force by 29 employees. The decision to make those layoffs stemmed from the increased influx in charity care and troubles with Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements with the likelihood that neither the state nor federal government was going to increase funding, Whiteley said.
These factors, coupled with the county's unemployment rate of 18 percent, ultimately resulted in the hospital's demise, Whiteley said.
The Hospital Authority of Calhoun County initially had 190 positions. Thanks to the sale of facilities in Edison, more than 100 health care jobs in the county have been saved despite the hospital's closure, Whiteley said.
The facility shut its doors at 3 p.m., effectively leaving 60-70 people unemployed. A few patients were still in the hospital on Friday, all of whom were discharged before it shut down, the CEO said.
"It's a sad day for the community," he said on Monday. "We were a small hospital in a small community, and we were the largest economic development left.
"It's just a sign of the times."
A few employees will remain on site for the next two to four months to sell off the hospital's equipment and assets, Whiteley said.
Whiteley also said a nearby rural health clinic will stay in operation to help meet the area's primary care needs.