published Thursday, December 5th, 2013

Walker County to back loans for Hutcheson Medical Center

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.

"All options are on the table," Walker County Sole Commissioner Bebe Heiskell said in a news release issued late Wednesday afternoon, 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 money-saving measures they are planning.

"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," Heiskell said. "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."

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 today whether to join Walker County in backing a line of credit for Hutcheson.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.

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