Southeast Georgia is losing another hospital.
Optim Medical Center Jenkins in Millen is closing and will merge with Screven Medical Center. The Jenkins location will remain open for 60 days, or until June 24, and all patients currently receiving treatment at the Jenkins County hospital will be directed to Screven Medical Center.
The closure will put 55 part-time and full-time employees out of job at the Jenkins location. Optim has reported that some will receive severance and others a chance to move to other locations.
The primary care arm of the center in Jenkins, which sees many regular patients, will remain open with two doctors and a nurse practitioner.
Optim Medical Center Jenkins CEO Bob Sellers cited limited Medicare reimbursements as one of the biggest blows. Sellers said, “When Medicare as critical access hospital only pays you a 1% margin on your Medicare patients against your costs then it’s very hard to keep your infrastructure up,” WRDW reported.
But a news release issued by Optim elaborated, saying “the impact of costly needed infrastructure upgrades at the Jenkins Medical Center, cuts in Medicare/Medicaid reimbursements, and a decrease in patient activity to non-sustainable levels forced the decision.”
The facility has long been accepting emergency patients unable to make it to Augusta, Savannah, or even Statesboro. According to U.S. News, the 25-bed location is a general medical and surgical hospital and data from the most recent year available shows 4,620 patients visited the hospital’s emergency room in a single year – though just 287 were admitted. Physicians performed 4 inpatient and 627 outpatient surgeries.
Unfortunately, the closest rural hospitals – University Hospital McDuffie, Burke Medical Center, Washington County Regional Medical Center, and Jefferson Hospital – are all among the list of “in need” facilities as well.
31 rural hospitals across Georgia are currently struggling, according to the Georgia Department of Community Health. Until a decision is made, those that remain open brace for decisions set to be made on the federal level.