Citing low patient volume, an independent for-profit hospital in rural Georgia abruptly closed last week.
The board of 41-bed Bowdon (Ga.) Area Hospital met Oct. 29-a day after a deal to sell the hospital fell through-and voted to shut down the hospital three days later.
Citing a confidentiality agreement, Bowdon Area Executive Director Bill Ehrhardt declined to identify the prospective buyer.
"We've been barely hanging on, anticipating the closing of this sale that had been delayed and delayed," he said. "The abruptness was attributable to the collapse of the sale."
Ehrhardt said the 26-year-old hospital suffered from low patient volume. Its inpatient census averaged just two or three patients per day, not enough to justify its 80 employees. The hospital lost several key physicians a few years ago and was unable to recruit new ones.
"It was pretty well known that we've been struggling for years," Ehrhardt said.
The hospital is owned by the Bowdon Area Hospital Corp., a group of local individuals who purchased the facility from the county hospital authority in 1986.
The hospital's chief competitor is not-for-profit 162-bed Tanner Medical Center, a hospital authority-owned facility managed by Brentwood, Tenn.-based Quorum Health Resources. Tanner is located 10 miles away in Carrollton, Ga. Bowdon, with a population of about 2,500, is about 50 miles west of Atlanta near the Alabama border.
Holly Bates Snow, spokeswoman for the GHA: An Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, said Bowdon Area is the only Georgia hospital to close this year.
"We've been saying all along that the Balanced Budget Act (of 1997) could be the death knell for hospitals serving high Medicare, Medicaid and uninsured populations," Bates Snow said. "This could be the first casualty."
The hospital has lost money for the past three years.
According to the Associated Press and HCIA, a Baltimore-based healthcare information company, the hospital lost nearly $200,000 last year on revenues of $5.1 million.