Big Changes at Habersham County Medical Center

Big Changes at Habersham County Medical Center

Will Piedmont students need to seek medical treatment elsewhere?

Story written and produced by Manyi Eno, Bob Carey, Jessica Owensby and Alexandra Green

DEMOREST, GA- There may be some major changes for students at Piedmont College regarding where and how they get their medical treatment.

Experiencing financial troubles since 2009, Habersham Medical Center (HMC), located in Demorest, has requested a partnership with Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC), located in Gainesville, to help them restructure and pay off some bad debt.

According to the CEO of HMC, Jerry Wise, approximately 40 percent of the county population bypasses Habersham and takes their healthcare needs to NGMC because of the quality and specialty services that NGMC offers.

Piedmont students currently get free services from Habersham Primecare, which is an outpatient walk-in clinic inside the hospital. Students can go once a year free of charge for any unplanned illness. Student athletes also use the emergency room and the orthopedic physician when needed.

Piedmont students are among the patients affected by any changes at the hospital, as they make up 35 percent of the Demorest population and eight percent of Habersham County population, according to

This potential merger may put students’ healthcare in jeopardy. Wise said that the continuation of Piedmont students’ free healthcare services would be a decision that NGMC would have to make.

“I would anticipate that it would continue because that’s community outreach, but here again, that would be dependent on the negotiations,” said Wise.

According to a press release in December 2012, HMC planned on joining NGMC, along with a few other community partners in northeast Georgia, in a health information exchange called Health-e-Connection.

In September 2013, NGMC and HMC signed a letter of intent that allows both hospitals to work more closely on their strategic planning effort, according to a press release.

David Kerby, the chair of the Habersham Hospital Authority, says that the administration is still working out the details of the agreement. “We do know this is the type of agreement we must move towards,” he said.

There are, however, potential positive outcomes with the merger between the two hospitals. With more resources coming to Habersham County, that means more specialty clinics, better hospital equipment, better quality of care, and also the possibility of growth and job creation.

Many of the details between the two hospitals have not been finalized, so students will still have to wait and see how this agreement will affect them while they are at Piedmont.

To find out more about Habersham Medical’s financial history and joint expectations, readers can view the timeline below.

Click on this link to Check out the Habersham Medical Center Financial Timeline