Wilcox county hospital in financial jeopardy

Many hospitals are feeling the pinch of inadequate reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid and the rising cost of equipment and personnel. Some are barely keeping their heads above water.

In Camden the signs are everywhere .... Asking people to vote for a small property tax increase to keep the hospital afloat.

Dr. Willie White is the Chief of Staff who says, "The need for the property tax is a rising health cost from 3rd party payers are not paying as they paid in the past."

John Paul Jones is the first line of defense in an accident and the only hospital in the county.

White says  "We are a county hospital, we have no outside funding."

It's the first time they have run into a problem of this magnitude since opening their doors in 1958.  And White says their financial condition is in intensive care, "We're seeing a lot of indigent patients, and not getting any reimbursement for them. And we need the tax to keep our hospital afloat."

And it's not just the hospital that is in critical condition.  Sheila Rowe is the Director of Nursing who says, "Our ambulance service is also experiencing financial difficulty ... financing coverage for the county."

The ambulance service is tied to the hospital like a financial umbilical cord.

Rowe adds, "The hospital can help support the ambulance service, because they are also going to close if we do not receive some funding."

But now there is a glitch.  The legislative bill says it must be voted on by the first day of 3rd month following the governor's April signature and it requires a special election before it can be placed on the ballot.

That puts the june 6th primary date in jeopardy ... and it doesn't change the money problems.

Dr. White adds, "We're looking at not having a hospital, not having emergency room coverage in the whole county."

The hospital doesn't want to wait, and the county is seeking an attorney general's opinion.

The hospital board and concerned citizens have contacted the attorney generals office looking for a legal loophole ....

Wsfa news has talked with the attorney general's office today and learned that they have worked out something so that the referendum can be on the July 18th run off ballot ....

Reporter:  Ashley Anderson