The healthcare crisis continues to demonstrate it’s continued existance on the supply side. While we’ve covered the issues of Georgia’s critical access hospitals here regularly, they’re not the only hospitals having issues. Frankly, all medical suppliers are, at all levels. This evening, the Marietta Daily Journal brings word that Emory Adventist Hospital in Smyrna will be closing.
After extensive study and exploration of other alternatives, Adventist Health System and Emory Healthcare have decided to close Emory-Adventist Hospital at 3949 South Cobb Drive in Smyrna. The decision was approved by the EAH Board on Monday. The hospital will now begin a transition process toward closure by Oct. 31.
“Along with the dedicated physicians and employees of Emory-Adventist, we have worked hard over the years to make the hospital successful in its mission to serve the Smyrna area community,” said Pete Weber, EAH board chair, speaking for the partnership of AHS and EH. “EAH has earned a well-deserved reputation for high quality, compassionate care. Ultimately, however, the new market conditions in health care have made it impossible for EAH to continue operation.”
EAH has faced financial challenges over many years in this evolving health care environment, Weber explained. Even though EAH has been able to decrease costs, the hospital has had difficulty attracting enough patients in this highly competitive market to be financially sustainable.
Weber also said multiple options were explored to avoid closing the hospital. Since the spring of 2013, AHS and EH have talked with a number of other health care providers to discuss possible partnerships. While there was interest, those talks did not lead to an agreement.
That last paragraph is significant, as it describes the main focal point of solution common to inner city, suburban, and rural facilities. As I continue to learn about the health care delivery system and the providers’ challenges, most point to a time when the facilities serving rural areas and low income urban/suburban areas could partner with larger institutions in more lucrative areas. As most efforts to “bend the cost curve” have really been to cut reimbursements, there’s less and less available from the “profitable” institutions to share with those serving the have nots.
Now the “haves” have less. A lot less. So they’re ability to support the “have not” hospitals is greatly diminished.
On these pages and others, the debate is always about the demand side. “Access” to health care. Which is really “access to insurance”. Access to insurance doesn’t get you healthy if there’s no hospital or no doctor nearby when you need them.
Luckily for those in the Smyrna area, they have South Cobb Hospital in Austell and Kennestone Wellstar in Marietta to the North. Less than ideal, but closer than many in rural Georgia have when their facilities close.