Talks continue amongst the Elbert County Board of Commissioners on how to approach an annual funding request from Elbert Memorial Hospital.
During the commission’s work session yesterday evening, Commission Chairman Tommy Lyon said he figured it would take at least a one mil increase to keep the hospital afloat.
Elbert County Finance Manager Phil Pitts says there are a few counties that have some portion of their respective millage rates dedicated to their local hospital.
“And as you can see there were seven counties last year that did include a millage rate related to their hospital”, said Pitts. “Those counties were Candler, Clinch, Effingham, Habersham, Jasper, Liberty, and Union Counties.”
Citing results from a survey conducted by Elbert County EMS, Lyon said about 67% of those who participated said they would be okay with a one mil increase to save the hospital.
Lyon said the county is looking at about a one mil increase even if the hospital closes.
“I think from looking at it that may suffice. I think if the hospital closes that is about what it is going to cost to run Chuck (EMS) with the extra costs in his category”, said Lyon.
Elbert Memorial CEO Jim Yarborough was present at the work session and said he fully understands that it is not the commissioner’s responsibility about what has happened at Elbert Memorial.
“I don’t think anyone on the hospital authority board or in the hospital feels like this commission is responsible for what is happening to the hospital”, said Yarborough. “As I have said this is not only an Elbert County problem, but a problem that is happening nationwide. We have a lot of hospitals providing charity care and a lot of services we aren’t being paid for. Most of these small hospitals are absorbing that expense, and we just can’t keep the doors open and keep doing that.”
Lyon says he doesn’t know how the commission is leaning at this point on the issue, or even if a vote will take place during the commission’s regular meeting.
That meeting will be held in the Board of Commissioner’s Meeting Room at 5:30pm on Monday.