Tag Archives: Peach Regional Medical Center

Dose of Reality for Peach Regional ER Patients

Management at Peach Regional Medical Center has made a wise choice to give a potentially bitter bill to some of the 1,500 or so people a month who flock to the emergency room.  Starting tomorrow (March 1) a 7 a.m., a new Medical Screening Process will go live.  A doctor will see every patient, but those whose condition doesn’t qualify as an emergency will be asked to pay a deposit if they still want treatment at the ER.  Those who don’t wish to pay will receive financial counseling and be given a list of area doctors and clinics for further treatment.  Those who do ante up will receive treatment, but might have a long wait, while staff treat people with more serious conditions.

The MSP will likely upset that population that’s grown used to using the ER as a free medical clinic — free, that is, for the patients; but it’s been said over and over in discussions of healthcare problems that the ER is the most expensive place to treat anything that isn’t a genuine emergency.  PRMC chief Nancy Peed noted today that a visit to a doctor or clinic for a routine illness might cost around $80, but that same visit could cost $300 – $600 at the ER.  It helps neither the patient, whose credit will eventually reflect that unpaid bill, nor the hospital, whose bottom line will eventually reflect that unpaid bill.

 Let’s also remember that the bill won’t really be unpaid.  Someone will pay eventually, either taxpayers or every other patient and insurer who does pay.

Public hospitals have been rolling over for too long against the tide of entitlement.  At an earlier meeting with county commissioners, Hospital Authority Chairman Tom Green said PRMC had long been reluctant to ask for money up front for political reasons.  There might be protests from advocates for the poor (and there are a lot of poor people and advocates for them in Peach County, especially Fort Valley).  These are the advocates who claim moving the hospital is itself discrimination.  Imagine the fun they’ll have with PRMC asking people to pay for medical care.  The nerve!

Let the protests come.  Public hospitals do have obligations to serve the public and the poor, but that doesn’t mean providing treatment on demand to anyone who walks in the door, regardless of the cost or the needs of other, sicker people.

PRMC is in a struggle for survival.  Improved financial performance will help get the planned new hospital built, which will allow better service for everyone.  With Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers putting the squeeze on PRMC and other hospitals, it’s time for the public to squeeze a little less, for everyone’s sake.

For complete coverage of this month’s hospital authority meeting, see the March 5, 2008 issue of The Leader-Tribune.

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More Items on my Thanksgiving List

Next Wednesday’s column will include four items on my Thanksgiving list. Here are a few more:

The Austin Theatre. I haven’t been inside the place yet, but it makes downtown Fort Valley look more inviting. The challenge for downtowns, in any size city, is to give people some reason to visit. Attractive buildings that hold events you can’t attend elsewhere are pieces of the puzzle. Successful examples in other places include the Douglass Theatre in Macon and the Fox Theatre in Atlanta. (For some reason, old theaters always spell it “theatre.”) The first is in a small city, the second in a large city. Macon’s downtown has some attractions, including the Douglass, the Tubman Museum, the Georgia Music Hall of Fame and the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. It’s a work in progress; some stretches of downtown Macon still look old and rundown, but it’s on the right track. Atlanta’s downtown has been on the comeback trail for a while now. Fort Valley faces more of a challenge, being so small and with limited resources, but civic pride and Fort Valley Main Street should make it happen. What we need next is a nice restaurant on the same block, since dinner and theater are a classic combination.

Fort Valley’s Christmas Lights. When the nights are long and cold and the streets mostly deserted, this annual sparkling display is reason enough to cruise through downtown. A suggestion for Main Street or other interested parties: Some kind of event that draws people to downtown particularly at night. Could local shops stay open a night or two during this season?

Local health care. After a rough year for my health, I want to once again sing the praises of Dr. Cynthia Giles and Peach Regional Medical Center. Dr. Giles is the best doctor I’ve ever had, caring, thorough, and determined to get to the bottom of any illness, or find someone who can. (I speak only from direct experience. I invite comments about your favorite local doctors.) PRMC really is the Little Hospital That Could. Through the years, they’ve struggled simply to keep their doors open and made it through the night. Lately, the struggle is to open their new doors. Things look good for that project. As I’ve said before, PRMC’s people took excellent care of me during my stay. Anybody unfortunate enough to have to stay there during the holidays will surely appreciate the care even more. To the bad-mouthers out there: Take care of PRMC as well as they take care of you. REMINDER: PRMC needs your support. Vote for PRMC to win an MRI. Last time I checked, they had 2,153 votes, which is way behind, but miracles can and do happen.

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