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SGMC Lanier Campus Case Statement

6/22/2017


Located in Lakeland, Georgia, the SGMC Lanier Campus is a 25-bed critical access hospital with an adjacent 62-bed skilled nursing facility named the SGMC Lakeland Villa.  Dr. Louis Smith, a local physician, began a private hospital in Lakeland in 1949.  The hospital closed for several years and was purchased and re-opened by the Seventh Day Adventist in 1957.  It was deemed a critical access hospital in 2002.  The hospital and nursing home were purchased in 2014 by South Georgia Medical Center. The facility was renamed the SGMC Lanier Campus.  Prior to the acquisition of the SGMC Lanier Campus, budget constraints prohibited major renovations and new equipment purchases.  Instead, the building underwent routine maintenance only for many years.

Today, the SGMC Lanier Campus is a vital part of the community in terms of health services and economic impact. The hospital offers general and acute care services 24-hours a day, seven-days a week with a 24-7 emergency department. The hospital added services such as swing bed capability, a sleep center, rehabilitation services, and primary care to the residents of Lakeland and the surrounding medically underserved South Georgia cities of Ray City, Homerville, and Pearson in an effort to provide a greater variety of services to keep patients close to home.  The hospital has maintained continuous accreditation by The Joint Commission since 1995.  

The SGMC Lakeland Villa Nursing Home and the SGMC Lanier Campus are the largest economic generators in Lanier County.  A new 62-bed replacement nursing home, an $11 million investment in the community, opened in March, 2017.  While the SGMC Lanier Campus and SGMC Lakeland Villa Nursing Home benefit financially from its affiliation with SGMC, the largely Medicare, Medicaid and indigent populations they serve create challenges. In addition to these challenges, the hospital is located in a dated facility that is in need of major building renovations and capital equipment purchases.  

SGMC Lanier Campus was established to care for the sick and injured, regardless of sex, race, creed, color, nationality handicap or disability.  Today, the payor mix is 19.6 percent self-pay (largely uncollectable), 23.3 percent Medicaid, 45.9 percent Medicare, 3.5 percent commercial and 3.1 percent Tri-care.  According to DATA.USA (2015 data) households in Lanier County, GA have a median income of $37,605. The largest share of the households have income below $10,000 annually.  Lanier County’s population is 10,403 with the racial makeup being predominantly White, followed by Blacks and Hispanics.  The largest demographic living in poverty in Lanier County is female, age 25-34.  Thirty-one percent of the population for whom poverty status is determined in Lakeland, GA (3,086 people) live below the poverty line. This is higher than the national average of 14.7 percent. 

It is no secret that dozens of rural Georgia hospitals are having serious financial difficulties.  A large percentage of the patient population in Lanier County is unable to pay for the services.  For the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016, SGMC Lanier Campus provided in excess of $2 million in indigent care, charity care, and bad debt write-offs.  The Hospital Authority has subsidized the operations at the SGMC Lanier Campus, but the amount of free care provided to its patients puts a strain on the health system’s overall financial health.  Upgrading the facility and clinical equipment is a critical piece in providing quality care for the residents of Lanier County.

Donations received as a result of the rural tax credit would be instrumental in helping SGMC Lanier Campus overcome its challenges.  The donations would help offset losses incurred from providing free care to the citizens of Lanier County.  The donations would also be used to upgrade the facility and the clinical equipment in an effort to improve the overall patient experience.  Donations could also enable SGMC Lanier Campus to be more competitive when recruiting physicians to the area.  The Hospital Authority is committed to the future of the SGMC Lanier Campus, and with the help of potential donors, the citizens of Lanier County can continue to receive quality services.

For more information on the services at the SGMC Lanier Campus, contact Administrator Richard Huth at richard.huth@sgmc.org or call 229-543-8604.

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