New push hopes to breathe life into dwindling hospital - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

New push hopes to breathe life into dwindling hospital

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CATOOSA COUNTY, GA (WRCB) - Hundreds of north Georgia residents are rallying to save a local hospital.

Hutcheson Medical Center is facing foreclosure. Erlanger claims it owes some $22 million to the health system.

But supporters say they're not going without a fight.

The hospital not only provides medical care and 900 jobs in Dade, Catoosa and Walker counties, it also aids in economic development for the region.

“They always ask three questions, and one of them is ‘Do you have a hospital?'” Bebe Heiskell said.

For years, the hospital has been struggling to keep its doors open due to mounting debt and may soon have to shut down for good if foreclosure proceedings go through.

“I was assured this would never happen when I reluctantly signed that agreement,” Heiskell added.

Heiskell is the sole commissioner in Walker County and says Erlanger didn't follow through with promises they made in a new management agreement three years ago.

“To say that they're going to take the hospital back because I owe them $10 million, I don't think that I do. I don't think that I do because they didn't keep their end of the bargain,” she said.

Hutcheson Medical Center CEO Farrell Hayes helped create the SaveHutcheson.com movement to show the importance this hospital is to the north Georgia region. He's seen how critical seconds are when it comes to saving lives.

“There was a 2-year old near drowning victim that had been resuscitated in our ER. So to say that us being here doesn't matter, is bizarre,” he said.

In hopes that a new breath of life will help save this dwindling staple.

Erlanger and Hutcheson will hold public hearings on this issue, dates and times are below:

Erlanger Public Hearing:
Date: Thursday, October 16, 2014
Time: 6:30-7:30 pm
Location: Catoosa County Civic Center Auditorium at the Colonnade off State Route 2 at 264 Catoosa Circle, Ringgold, GA 30736

Catoosa County:
Date: Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Time: 7:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Location: Catoosa County Civic Center Auditorium at the Colonnade off State Route 2 at 264 Catoosa Circle, Ringgold, GA 30736

Walker County:
Date: Thursday, November 13, 2014
Time: 7:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Location: Walker County Civic Center Auditorium off U.S. Highway 27 in Rock Spring at 10052 Hwy 27 North, Rock Spring, GA 30739

Dade County:
Date: Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Time: 7:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Location: Dade County Administrative Building at 71 Case Avenue, Trenton, GA 30752
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