Letter: Hospital thanks voters

Dear Editor:
• Between 2010 and 2016, rural Georgia saw six hospitals close their doors (Calhoun Memorial, Charlton Memorial, Hart County, Lower Oconee, North GA Medical, and Stewart-Webster).  
• 25 percent of Jefferson County residents are at or below the poverty line.
• Georgia is in the top five states with the highest percent of people who have no healthcare insurance.
• Georgia is near the bottom, 48th in the country, in Medicaid spending per beneficiary.
The above data does not paint a very pretty picture.  In many counties across rural Georgia, the county government’s monthly financial contribution to the local hospital is the difference between keeping the hospital open and closing its doors for good.  Once the local hospital is closed, the economic future of the county is very bleak.  
On March 21st, the voters of Jefferson County voted overwhelmingly to allow the county to provide monthly financial assistance to the hospital, until such time as the hospital’s financial situation improves.  In doing so, the voters gave the Chamber and Development Authority a big shot in the arm with regards to attracting new businesses to the area.  Indeed, one of the many items I look forward to in the coming years is working with the Chamber of Commerce and the Development Authority to attract new industry to Jefferson County. 
As the hospital’s administrator, I want to thank everyone who participated in the town hall meetings and voting process.  You have allowed us to continue to fulfill our mission; to provide healthcare for ALL residents of Jefferson County.  Now and in the future.
Warmest Regards,
Lou Semrad III
Jefferson Hospital