Georgia hospital asks county to fund more inpatient beds

Covington, Ga.-based Piedmont Newton Hospital is asking Newton County officials to allocate $2.2 million of its remaining American Rescue Plan Act funds to add 10 inpatient beds, the Rockdale Newton Citizen reported March 23. 

Norris Little, MD, the hospital's interim CEO, told county commissioners the inpatient census was about 50 prior to the pandemic but is now closer to 80, according to the report. Emergency room visits increased from 100 to as many as 150. 

Dr. Little, who is also the hospital's chief medical officer, said he anticipates demand will continue to rise due to ongoing economic development in the county and surrounding areas, according to the report. 

He said the 10-bed increase can be completed in the hospital's existing footprint within six months, according to the report. The funding would serve as a stopgap measure. Dr. Little said in the longer term, a major infrastructure investment will be needed to address the growing population. 

County commissioners tabled the hospital's request for 30 days to give the board chairman an opportunity to speak to Covington officials about contributing to the project, according to the report. 

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