Rural Hospital

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In Calhoun County, Hospital Board Association members there are still trying to solve their financial troubles. The board met Thursday to discuss more ideas to raise operating capital, but they're still in a holding pattern.

It’s been another week, and still no word as to the financial future of the Calhoun-Liberty Hospital in Blountstown. Last month officials with Dassee Health Management told the county it could no longer afford to run the hospital and planned to close the doors.

Dassee is the same company that left Franklin County commissioners with a financial mess at Weems Memorial Hospital in Apalachicola, so the board voted to take over the license and operate the hospital.

But that's easier said than done. Board members estimate they need at least a million dollars to get on solid financial footing. They've brought in a rural consultant to show them how to get out of the red.

Marlyn Russell of the Calhoun-Liberty Hospital Board says, "Possibly around 400,000 is what he's thinking right now in profit, if it's run correctly, and we get the funds we need to stay open."

But so far, they haven't been able to raise the cash.

David Berk, Rural Hospital consultant, says, "The big concern we have is that for the first three or four months when your starting a hospital that has no money is where are you going to get the money to stay open?"

The hospital board had been negotiating with both Calhoun and Liberty County commissioners for half million dollars loans. They were also talking to a private citizen who was considering a million dollar donation, but none of those deals have panned out, so the board is turning to banks.

"We've been working very diligently with different lenders, institutions, state agencies to see how we can get and generate enough capital to keep the hospital open until we can get the bills and things out of the door so that we can survive."

The board is still hopeful they can arrange financing to get the hospital over this hump.

Within the last few years, federal laws had been passed to change the way rural hospitals are reimbursed by having them paid based on what it costs to operate rather than on a per patient basis.