Rural Hospitals in Georgia Receive $140K in Funds

Staff Report

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021

Rural hospitals are critical components of their local communities that now have additional funds to help them carry out their missions. The Georgia Rural Hospital Tax Program (Georgia HEART) awarded 14 hospitals a total of $140,000 through a donation made by Windham Brannon. The funds were designated to specifically help rural facilities across the state.

Hospitals receiving funds include: Monroe County Hospital, AdventHealth Murray (Murray Medical Center), Polk Medical Center, Tift Regional Medical Center, John D. Archbold Memorial Hospital, Colquitt Regional Medical Center, Upson Regional Medical Center, Union General Hospital, Stephens County Hospital, Jefferson Hospital, Burke Medical Center, Piedmont Mountainside Hospital, Wayne Memorial Hospital and Washington County Regional Medical Center.

“Today more than ever, rural hospitals are strongholds in their communities,” said Danielle Epps, healthcare practice co-leader at Windham Brannon. “They conveniently provide much-needed care, yet, too many struggle financially.” 

Revenue leakage, which stems from things like manual processes, not capturing and billing all services, coding errors and much more, can reduce a hospital’s revenue by up to 10% annually. Add to that the negative impacts of COVID-19 this past year and the financial losses are sizeable. 

“There are nearly 2,000 rural hospitals in the U.S., including about 60 here in Georgia, that serve large parts of our population,” Epps said. “It’s vital that they remain profitable so they can continue to provide much-needed services to those in their respective communities.” 

Nine Georgia rural hospitals have closed since 2008, and two of those closed at the end of 2020, according to Becker’s Hospital Review. This is complicating access to healthcare locally. A 2017 Georgia Board for Physician Workforce report, the most recent available, showed that: 

  • 75 counties didn’t have an OB/GYN

  • 63 counties did not have a pediatrician

  • 54 counties did not have an emergency medicine physician

  • 8 counties had no physicians at all

Access to healthcare in rural areas is dependent on the financial well-being of hospitals. To help, Windham Brannon works with rural hospitals to discover revenue leakage and identify process inefficiencies that cause financial impairment. 

“We aim to make a difference for healthcare providers because we know that, ultimately, we are serving patients and their communities. “Everyone will be a patient at some point in their life, which is something we take to heart,” said Epps. “

It’s a steep price for communities and surrounding areas to pay when a hospital closes.

“We’re honored to be able to help these facilities in a small part through our donation to Georgia HEART. They are an important part of the healthcare industry and we can’t afford to lose any more.” Epps said.