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Hutcheson patients scrambling for medical care after clinics abruptly close

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CHICKAMAUGA, GA (WRCB) -

Hutcheson Medical Center is closing three of its clinics, forcing workers from their positions and patients scrambling to find medical care.

On Monday, the hospital announced it shut down the ICU, Chickamauga Family Practice and Battlefield Lung Specialists in an effort to cut costs so the hospital can return to profitability.
 
Channel 3 spoke with several patients who say they were left in the dark without notice, and are now frantically searching for a new doctor.

READ MORE | Employees let go from Hutcheson want answers

"I've been with these guys like four or five years, and not the courtesy of a phone call, a letter, nothing," said one patient, who wished to remain anonymous.

She showed up to Hutcheson's Chickamauga Family Practice on Tuesday to find a sign on the front door that read, in part, "Effective immediately. Suspending services until further notice."

It's a worry for those needing prescription refills.

READ MORE | Hutcheson closes 3 clinics to "bring back profitability"

"I'm on medication that's gonna run out," she said.

The practice's administrative office opened on Tuesday so patients could sign release forms for their medical records. They also received referrals to other doctors.

"It's just inconvenient for senior citizens to have to be run around like that," said 74-year-old James Minghini.

Minghini and his wife, who is currently bed-ridden after knee replacement surgery, depend on several medications.

"She can't ride. She can't go in there and sit down. Can't be examined. Not now, she can't. So if she runs out of medicine, I don't know what we're gonna do," said Minghini.

"What are we supposed to do?" asked another patient, who was looking for answers at the clinic on Tuesday. "I've got COPD. I was supposed to have an appointment here Monday, but they closed. Now, i can't find out who I've gotta go see."

The man said he needs his medical records for a disability claim.

"That's what I need the records for, but I can't get them," he shrugged. "They're telling me they'll call me later."

Employees at the clinic would not answer any of our questions. Channel 3 did reach out to the hospital's President for answers and advice for current patients, but our messages were not returned.

Hutcheson has faced many financial struggles in recent years. Four years ago, Erlanger stepped in and loaned the hospital $20 million so it could stay open.

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