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Rural Health Panel Backs Changes at Struggling Hospitals

Posted at 4:48 AM, Feb 25, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-25 04:48:00-05

ATLANTA (AP) — A panel studying rural health issues in Georgia recommends a pilot program to ease small hospitals' financial struggles.

Gov. Nathan Deal formed the 15-member commission in March and charged them with finding a way to help rural hospitals struggling to keep their doors open. The commission's report released on Monday says four rural hospitals have closed in recent months.

The "hub and spoke" model commission that members support is aimed at cutting down the number of emergency room visits to rural hospitals from people seeking help for chronic conditions. It would pair four hospitals with other health care options including smaller hospitals, public health departments and local physicians.

The commission also requested $3 million be added to the Department of Community Health's budget to implement the program.