By Linton Johnson
AnMed Health announced Monday it will end its management services affiliation with Elbert Memorial Hospital when the five-year agreement between the two healthcare systems ends on February 28, 2018.
A statement released during the regular board meeting of the Elberton-Elbert County Hospital Authority said the authority will resume full responsibility for administration of the local hospital effective March 1, 2018. The partnership with Anderson, S.C.-based AnMed Health, which originated in 2012, has been beneficial to local healthcare delivery, according to Elbert Hospital Authority Chairman Daniel Graves.
“Although we regret seeing the affiliation with AnMed Health come to an end, the Hospital Authority remains very proud of the partnership we have had with them and wishes to express sincere gratitude for their efforts on our behalf. We appreciate the contributions AnMed Health has made to our local hospital and the generosity they have shown us throughout the course of our affiliation,” Graves said. “AnMed Health is a well-respected health system, and it is easy to see why. I have the utmost respect for their organization and the way they have treated this community. They went above and beyond their contractual obligations, and have done all we could ask them to do under very challenging circumstances. Many lasting friendships have been made.”
In a joint press release, Garrick Chidester, executive vice president of AnMed Health, echoed Graves’ thoughts, stating, “We are proud of the many things AnMed Health and the local Authority were able to accomplish together for Elbert Memorial. As so many rural hospitals across the nation are being shuttered by reduced funding for health care services, we are pleased that we could help their local hospital survive the challenges faced over the last five years.”
Among the achievements brought about through AnMed Health’s partnership with the Hospital Authority are the recruitment of several physician specialists, improved emergency room staffing, improved revenue cycle processes, and the establishment of Sole Community Hospital status, which allows for better reimbursement. Although much progress was made, AnMed Health officials cited challenges stemming from historical referral patterns, Georgia state medical licensing, and insurance contracts as barriers to sustaining the contract.
Graves said the hospital will be open for business on March 1, 2018, and the community and staff will experience the same quality and service they have enjoyed in recent years without interruption. Additionally, the Authority and will continue efforts already underway to ensure a smooth transition and continued operations. Graves further stated that potential affiliation partners have already been identified, but that the process is still in its early stages and will require the continued work of the Hospital Authority and hospital staff over the next several months.
Graves said Elbert Memorial is in a stronger financial position than it has been in a very long time thanks to community support demonstrated in the recent ad valorem tax decision, as well as ongoing efforts of hospital employees and volunteers.
“Although many challenges remain ahead of us, it’s important for all of those concerned with the survivability of the hospital to know that we will continue to do all we can to provide quality healthcare to our community,” he said. “Our strength has always been found in the character and faith of our community, volunteers and employees. I have no doubt that as we face these challenges, this strength will continue to be demonstrated.”