Clyde Reese, Commissioner for the Georgia Department of Community Health, visited Hutcheson Medical Center today. As Commissioner, Reese oversees the state agency that administers Georgia Medicaid.
Commissioner Reese visited Hutcheson at the invitation of Senator Jeff Mullis. The purpose of his visit was to learn about the needs of the patient community Hutcheson serves and understand the economic impact the hospital makes in its three county service area. Reese toured the hospital and visited Hutcheson on the Parkway, the hospital’s ambulatory surgery and outpatient cancer center. The Commissioner also met with local physicians.
“Our department, in conjunction with Governor Deal, is focused on the critical needs of rural hospitals in the state of Georgia,” stated Commissioner Reese. “Every community needs access to primary to primary care and emergency services. Not having this type of infrastructure in rural areas leads a tremendous health and economic void in the community.”
Hutcheson Medical Center serves 160,000 residents in the northwest Georgia counties of Catoosa, Dade, and Walker. The hospital offers medical services typically found in a community hospital setting, including general surgery, cardiology, pulmonology, orthopedics, and gastroenterology. Hutcheson also has nine outpatient clinics throughout its service area that serves as access points for medical care. One quarter of patients served by Hutcheson receive some type of Georgia Medicaid coverage, and the hospital provided $33 million in uninsured care to residents last year.
In addition, Hutcheson’s economic footprint is large in Northwest Georgia. The hospital employs approximately 900 employees and has an economic impact amounting to over $29 million in annual payroll. The majority of Hutcheson’s vendors are within a 50 mile radius of the hospital, and for some, the hospital is their largest or sole customer.
“We are honored to have Commissioner Reese visit Hutcheson and see firsthand the challenges rural hospitals in Georgia face each day,” stated Farrell Hayes, President and CEO of Hutcheson. “Community hospitals are the life engine of so many rural areas as they are often the only local source of healthcare and generally the largest employer. Ensuring they remain viable is critical.”