Halimah Abdullah


Rural hosiptals worry reforms won't be helpful

WASHINGTON – The Peach County Regional Medical Center, a small, Cold War-era hospital in Fort Valley, Ga., 40 miles from the nearest trauma center in Macon, is in critical condition. Medical specialists and surgeons – physicians who are hard to recruit to rural areas – often take one look at the hospital’s worn and soiled carpet and peeling wallpaper and decide to hang their shingles elsewhere. The emergency room has only five beds, so when patients with serious injuries or illnesses are admitted other less critical patients must get out of bed and walk or are rolled to a nearby waiting room. Most of those patients are uninsured and can pay little, if anything, toward their treatment, forcing the hospital to absorb the costs.