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'The time to act is now': Rural hospital to join Northeast Georgia Health System

Gainesville-based Northeast Georgia Health System will acquire Habersham Medical Center in mid-2023 after a deal was finalized late on Jan. 10, the health system said in a news release. 

Leaders from the Hospital Authority of Hall County and the City of Gainesville, the Hospital Authority of Habersham County and the Habersham County Government inked a five-year agreement to secure the future of the medical center in 2019. 

That deal called for the Hospital Authority of Hall County and the City of Gainesville to inject $3 million a year — $15 million over five years — in capital improvements to bolster the hospital's services. It also included an option for the organization to take ownership of the hospital, in exchange for the $15 million investment, at the end of the deal in 2024 or earlier.

All three parties agreed to an early transition. To accomplish that, the Hospital Authority of Hall County and the City of Gainesville will invest the final $3 million on or before July 1, after which it will immediately lease the hospital to Northeast Georgia Health System or its affiliate.

North Georgia Health System and Habersham Medical Center have agreed to enter into a management services agreement until the acquisition, with the system overseeing key operations and financial services and providing IT support.

"The challenges HMC has experienced in recent years mirror those of so many other independent, rural hospitals across the state and nation," Tyler Williams, the hospital's president and CEO, said in the release. "These challenges are only increasing, so the time to act is now. Our hospital joining NGHS — a well-respected organization, with a strong financial track record, who many people in our county already trust for their care — is going to stabilize and improve healthcare across the entire region."

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