Special to SEGAZINE
What happens when a rural community loses a hospital?
Jobs disappear. Hopes for economic development fade. Residents look for a new route to the nearest hospital.
Georgia has seen three rural hospitals close this year: Charlton Memorial Hospital in Folkston; Stewart-Webster Hospital in Richland; and Calhoun Memorial in Arlington.
A fourth, Flint River Hospital in Montezuma, closed its emergency room.
Stewart Webster Hospital closed earlier this year.
Officials with the hospitals said financial pressures forced them to go through with the closures. All were in areas that have struggled economically. But in a sad irony, the loss of a hospital usually weakens the economy of an area even further.
The consequences for patients and potential patients are grim when a hospital disappears.