Graceville Hospital Struggling Under Debt

GRACEVILLE Cambellton-Graceville hospital board members are trying to keep the hospital open, while climbing out from under a nearly $1 million debt.

The solution could involve laying off a third of the hospital's employees.

Hospital board chairperson Linda Wheatley began Monday afternoon's meeting with a plea to a higher authority, praying, "With your guidance, I as well as others, know that some way will be found to keep our hospital open."

Within the last 3 to 4 months, the Campbellton-Graceville hospital has totaled a nearly $1 million debt.

Chief of Staff Dr. Steve Davis says, "We need to go ahead and make some action immediately.This is something that we can't wait. We have exhausted all of our time that we had to think about things and contemplate things. Changes have to be made immediately."

Board members sought guidance from rural hospital financial consultant James Sneed of Bonifay.

Sneed says growing uncertainties with the affordable care act could be contributing to the problem.

The hospital has been a staple in the Graceville community since the 1960s and these upcoming possible layoffs could affect up to 90 families.

Davis says, "We're in uncharted territory so we've never been quite so far in debt but we're hoping that we can make some aggressive changes and we can right the ship."

In addition to salary-cuts, board members agree they'll have to lay-off at least 30 employees, and that could be just the beginning.

Davis explains, "We're at the edge of the cliff. We need to make some changes pretty quick."

If the hospital board cannot find a permanent solution within the next three months, the hospital may be forced to shut down.

Sneed says the hospital board's priority should be to hire a new hospital administrator after theirs resigned last week without explanation.


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