A committee report to Georgia governor Nathan Deal was published this week (link below) and it proposes a plan to revitalize rural hospitals by making them part of a “holistic system” via an integrated “hub and spoke” model.
This plan to help rural hospitals in Georgia provides a reference point for other states and small hospitals in similar situations. Almost two-thirds of the 61 rural hospitals in Georgia are losing money, and almost one-third have been operating with a budget deficit for at least the previous five years. Only seven of the hospitals have been profitable in each of the previous five years.
In the committee report, four hospitals have been proposed as the “Hub” systems that will provide primary hospital care as well as nursing home, home health and rural health clinic components. The “Spokes” will include the following:
● Smaller Critical Access Hospitals
● Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs)
● School Clinics Equipped for Telemedicine
● Public Health Departments
“Spoke” resources also include local physicians as well as ambulances equipped with Wi-Fi and telemedicine capabilities. In this model, the larger regional hospitals would direct patients to facilities that provide the most appropriate specialized services. As a result, smaller facilities will not be burdened with the costs associated with providing a wide range of specialized services. Additionally, a key goal is to minimize use of Emergency Departments as an access point for primary care.
The committee’s recommended pilot project designates four Hub facilities: Union General, Appling Health System, Crisp Regional and Emanuel Regional Medical Center. The State of Georgia is providing $3 million in funding for the pilot project and associated infrastructure.
To learn more about the initiative you can access the final published report and a related news article at the links below.