Georgia hospital to close: 4 things to know

Gainesville-based Northeast Georgia Health System has reached a conditional agreement with DL Investment Holdings to buy Chestatee Regional Hospital in Dahlonega, Ga. Under the agreement, NGHS would close the hospital and then possibly sell the property to the University of North Georgia, also in Dahlonega.

Here are four things to know.

1. Following NGHS' acquisition of Chestatee Regional, the health system would give the University of North Georgia the opportunity to purchase the property. Georgia legislators have earmarked dollars in the state's budget for fiscal year 2019 for the University of North Georgia Board of Regents to buy the property from NGHS.

2. The University of North Georgia would not occupy the property for the next few years. UNG President Bonita Jacobs said the facility could potentially house nursing, physical therapy and counseling education programs, as well as two existing outreach clinics.

3. Under the agreement, Chestatee Regional is required to notify federal regulators of plans to close the hospital later this year. This will help ensure existing liabilities are not tied to future owners or operators.

4. A specific date for the hospital's closing has not been set.

"Our immediate goal is to assess what is needed to re-establish high-quality healthcare services in Lumpkin County after the hospital closes," Louis Smith, president of acute and post-acute operations for NGHS, said. "Given what information we've received about existing resources, we estimate it may take as many as 12 months to complete that assessment."

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