2017-05-03 / Front Page

Hospital to close June 24th

By Deborah Bennett
Millen News editor

Optim Medical Center-Jenkins will close June 24th, resulting in the loss of 55 jobs. ( 
Staff photo by Deborah Bennett) Optim Medical Center-Jenkins will close June 24th, resulting in the loss of 55 jobs. ( Staff photo by Deborah Bennett) Jenkins County and Millen received a devastating blow last Tuesday when Optim Health System announced that Optim Medical Center-Jenkins would merge with its Screven Medical Center, located in Sylvania.

“Costly needed infrastructure upgrades at the Jenkins facility, cuts in Medicare/Medicaid reimbursements and a decrease in patient activity” were cited as the reasons for closing the local hospital. The closure will result in the loss of approximately 55 full-time and part-time jobs.

“After careful consideration and with no workable alternatives, we made the difficult decision to close our Jenkins Medical Center,” said Bob Sellers, CEO of Optim’s Jenkins/ Screven facilities. “We wish this wasn’t necessary, but after a lengthy analysis, running Jenkins with accelerating financial losses, and the challenge posed by its aging facility, we had no other options.”

Optim will continue to provide primary medical care for Jenkins County citizens at its Primary Care Center through the services of Kyle Gay, MD, Prakul Chandra, MD, and Nurse Practitioner Jennifer Lunsford. The Center is located at 961 East Winthrope Avenue. The physicians will have privileges at the Screven facility which means that Jenkins County patients who may need hospitalization will have the option of having their doctor admit them to the Screven facility.

“It’s their choice. We will send them wherever they want to go,” Mr. Sellers said.

Mr. Sellers also indicated that Optim was in negotiations with Innovative Therapy Concepts (ITC) to keep the hospital’s Therapy Department open. ITC currently operates the department for Optim.

“We are sorry that this decision will result in the loss of jobs and we are committed to helping those affected by this transition,” said David Castleberry, CEO of Optim Health System. “I want to thank all or our Jenkins Medical Center employees for the outstanding care they gave to so many patients for so many years. We are grateful for their excellent work and their dedication to our patients and the community.”

Eligible employees whose jobs have been eliminated may receive severance payments. All employees will receive outplacement assistance through Trace Staffing. Also, all employees whose jobs have been eliminated will be considered for open positions at Optim’s medical centers and clinics across its healthcare network.

The Jenkins facility, including the Emergency Room, will remain open for the next 60 days. Patients receiving care at the facility at the time of closing, June 24th, may choose to receive the same services at the Screven facility. Optim staff will coordinate this with patients, if they desire. Medical records previously held at the local hospital will be maintained at the Screven hospital. Patients needing copies of their records should call (478) 982-4221 and request connection to the Records Department.

A special phone number, (912)564-5290, has been established for Jenkins patients seeking additional information. A special web page has also been established at www.jenkins.optimhealth.com. Additional information will also be shared with patients and their families through Optim’s medical providers and by special contact when needed.

The building that currently houses Optim Medical Center- Jenkins was constructed through a bond issue in the amount of $1,320,000 and began operation in October 1975. The facility was converted from a 40-bed hospital to a Critical Access Hospital in 2000, operating with 25 beds. The hospital was sold in 2010 to Southeastern Orthopedic Center and Community Hospital Management Company, LP. The name was changed to Optim in 2011.

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