73-year-old Georgia hospital closes

Southwest Georgia Regional Medical Center in Cuthbert closed Oct. 22, making it the eighth rural hospital in the state to shut down since 2008, according to the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research.

The 25-bed critical access hospital announced plans in July to close. The hospital said it's closing due to financial strain worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The hospital "had been operating on the brink for years and before the COVID-19 crisis, we had not been able to finalize a workable plan to ensure the hospital's future success," Southwest Georgia Regional Medical Center CEO Kim Gilman told WFXL Fox. "Once the crisis hit, it simply pushed our hospital past the point of no return."

The 73-year-old hospital needed new medical equipment and more than $10 million for structural improvements before the pandemic.

COVID-19 was the "death knell," Southwest Georgia Regional board Chair Steve Whatley told TIME. "That pushed us over the cliff." 

With the closure of Southwest Georgia Regional, Randolph County is the 55th in the state to have no hospitals, according to TIME. The closest hospital is in Eufaula, Ala., about 30 minutes away. 

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