BJC Medical Center announced that it is closing its obstetrics departments. After Dec. 9, no babies will be born at BJC.
The hospital is caught by the twin pressures of a bad economy and inadequate reimbursements from Medicaid, and the problem is not limited to BJC. Medicaid patients who would normally go to BJC to have babies will go to hospitals in Athens or Gainesville, putting more financial pressure on those institutions. The same thing will happen in other rural markets, and if the economy lags long enough, to urban hospitals as well.
Seventy-six percent of births in Georgia are Medicaid babies, and the trend is getting higher due to the lame economy. BJC won’t be the last hospital forced to suspend a crucial but unprofitable service as more Georgians lose their jobs, their insurance and their ability to pay.
While the politicians argue over ideas for improving health care, hospitals are losing money and, in some cases, closing. As the situation worsens, some patients will show up at emergency room doors in labor, forcing deliveries at hospitals ill-equipped for emergency deliveries.
This time we lose obstetrics. Next time it may be the emergency room. Today it’s BJC Medical Center, but tomorrow it could be Athens Regional or Northeast Georgia.
For all of the editorials and columns, see the Nov. 12 edition of The Commerce News.
In support of good health
11/19/08 at 03:35 PM
This is so true! I work at a Northeast Georgia now and yes, the economy is making a huge difference! Universal Healthcare will only make it worse.
However, you must realize BJC is not the same as Athens Reginal or Northeast Georgia (NGHS). I trust NGHS. I know they expect a lot form their staff. The meet and exceed all standards. Thay challenge their staff and encourage continued education. They off competative salaries as to recruit only the highest of nurses and support staff. BJC...well, not so much! I have heard of horror stories of people who've walked in and never walked out. I wish I coudl say that they did not play any vital role in the care of one of my loved ones, but they have. Their inability to provide high quality heart care, might have caused my grandfather his life. A false positive lab test and staff that dragged their feet for months, I strongly believe made a difference in the treatment of my grandmother's terminal cancer. (In that case, we had to involve the CEO if the hospital just to get teh pathologist off his hiney!)
So, yes, what you say about hardships in the healthcare arean are completely true...But, please, I beg of you do not compare BJC to other hospitals in our area or even our state... That's like comparing apples to trains!