Hutcheson Medical Center to shut down

Hutcheson Medical Center in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., is seen on Oct. 21.

The doors of Hutcheson Medical Center will close in 30 days.

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Paul Bonapfel ordered that the hospital's main campus, outpatient services and cancer center shut down within about a month during a hearing this morning. At the most recent count, the hospital's emergency room had between 40 and 50 patients, while the main hospital saw about five people in beds.

The shut down comes because the hospital does not have enough cash flow to support itself as the patient count has dwindled in recent months. The hospital laid off 58 employees in September and about 70 more this month.

photo An aerial view of Hutcheson Medical Center in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga.

The future of the hospital building is still not clear. Erlanger Health System, which loaned Hutcheson about $20 million in 2011, has pushed for more than a year to foreclose on the property. However, the situation could be muddled if a bidder steps forward and asks to buy the hospital.

In addition, Bonapfel will allow Hutcheson to auction away Parkside Nursing Home. The hospital recently received a stalking horse bid from Maybrook LLC for about $7.2 million. This is slightly higher than an offer that Hutcheson received last week.

The hospital is expected to host an auction next month.

Meanwhile, Hutcheson is in the final stages of negotiating an agreement with the Walker County government, which plans to buy the Chickamauga Family Practice clinic. The hospital shut down the clinic two weeks ago to save money.

The county plans to purchase the clinic for $350,000 and lease it to Memorial Hospital, a similar arrangement to what the Dade County government did with another clinic that Hutcheson used to operate in Trenton.