Hutcheson labor & delivery unit closed - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Hutcheson labor & delivery unit closed

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FORT OGLETHORPE, GA (WRCB) - Fort Oglethorpe's cash-strapped hospital is getting some financial help, but not before making cuts.

Hutcheson Medical Center is currently more than $60 million in debt. Walker and Catoosa county officials announced Monday they will offer several million dollars of credit to the independently-run hospital, but that does not dig them all the way out of the hole. That's why Hutcheson suspended its labor and delivery services Tuesday at noon.

Hospital officials say it's part of a new focus on other areas where the hospital can make more money.

"We've been keeping in touch with the folks from Hutcheson for the last several years really, but certainly in the last few months and keeping tabs on what was going on with them," Parkridge Health System CEO Jarrett Millsaps said.

For other area hospitals it means more moms-to-be looking for a place to deliver their babies.

"We didn't want there to be a difference just because of a change in providers in the community," Millsaps said.

Millsaps says his hospital is ready for the increased demand.

"Steady level of attention to our capacity, to our staff, to our equipment and to our supplies," Millsaps said.

Erlanger officials say both of their campuses have prepared for the change, too.

"The majority of OB physicians at Hutcheson are licensed to deliver at both facilities and if not privileges can be granted to accommodate the needs of physicians and patients," Erlanger Chief Nursing Executive Jan Keys said.

But for the labor and delivery employees, most will start the new year jobless. Out of the 37 impacted, just seven took jobs in other parts of the hospital. The rest will stick to their area of expertise and look for jobs at other hospitals. Those employees without news jobs within Hutcheson can choose a severance option.

Hutcheson will get some financial help from the counties it serves. Walker and Catoosa counties renewed a $6 million line of credit that was due to expire at the end of the year.
 
Walker County threw in another million dollar line of credit, just in case it needs more. Commissioner Bebe Heiskell says the hospital doesn't need that immediately, but it is there if that time comes.

There were no expectant moms in the labor and delivery unit today when it closed.

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