Special to SEGAZINE
A sign outside Lower Oconee Community Hospital in Glenwood says, “Hospital operations have been suspended,” as of 5 p.m. Monday.
The state Department of Community Health has been notified, the sign says, and the hospital “will reopen in the very near future under reorganization.”
Hospital CEO Norman King left the hospital around 6:30 p.m. and declined comment.
In recent weeks, several employees and doctors told 13WMAZ that they had not been paid in a month. King said Medicare funding for the hospital had been cut off.
The 25-bed hospital also closed briefly in February, and the CEO at the said the hospital was in “dire financial straits” and needed to restructure.
That’s when King’s company bought Lower Oconee. At the time, about 100 people worked at the hospital, but King said he expected to cut staff.
Wheeler county EMS say the hospital closing down will affect emergency services. The county has one ambulance truck and the nearest hospital is 25 miles away.
EMS says this past Friday they received an emergency call about a possible heart attack, but their ambulance was already on another call.
One of the paramedics drove Collis George in his personal vehicle to meet up the ambulance from Vidalia.
EMS says they fear that more situations like the one on Friday will occur again.