published Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

Walker County to back Hutcheson Medical Center in Fort Oglethorpe

Hutcheson Medical Center
Hutcheson Medical Center
Photo by Doug Strickland /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Walker County, Ga., is willing to go it alone and help keep Hutcheson Medical Center afloat with loans as the publicly-owned Fort Oglethorpe hospital makes unspecified cuts to save several million dollars a year.

That’s according to a news release signed by Walker County Sole Commissioner Bebe Heiskell that was issued late Wednesday afternoon by Waterhouse Public Relations, a Chattanooga firm hired by Hutcheson.

“All options are on the table,” reads Heiskell’s statement, which comes a day after the Catoosa County Commission decided against backing a $2 million line of credit to Hutcheson through Regions Bank.

Heiskell noted that the hospital board adopted a new strategic plan at its Nov. 25 meeting.

“The new plan will provide even better hospital services but at the same time provide substantial long term savings of several million dollars per year,” the release states.

Hospital officials have declined to release the strategic plan or discuss any money-saving measures in the works.

“Quite simply, Hutcheson still cannot borrow money at reasonable rates, to meet its rebuilding phase cash flow needs, without one or more counties providing credit backing,” the release states. “Walker County is working with Hutcheson and helping negotiate with several major banks to provide a long term financial package that makes sense in light of the new strategic plan. That is a slow and tedious process which will take months to complete. In the interim, cash flow needs must be met."

Walker County is willing to extend a line of credit to the hospital on an as-needed basis.

The Dade County Commission is due to decide Thursday whether to join Walker County in backing a line of credit for Hutcheson.

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