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Copper Basin Medical Center to stop seeing patients October 1st

The CEO of the Copper Basin Medical Center confirms to NewsChannel 9 that the center will no longer see patients as of October 1st at 7 a.m. (Image: MGN)

A trend in the Southeastern part of the U.S. is hitting the NewsChannel 9 viewing area, leaving a gap in healthcare for a rural community.

The CEO of the Copper Basin Medical Center says the center will no longer see patients as of October 1st at 7 a.m.

He says doctors are seeing about 10 patients a day in the emergency room. That's about a third of what a successful hospital needs to stay up and running.

"The climate around here is comparable to a funeral," Dan Johnson said. "People are disappointed, although they have probably been expecting this for quite a long time."

William Brown Jr. was waiting on his wife to finish a radiology appointment, when he learned about the shutdown.

"I knew that they had some problems and were talking about closing, but I didn't know it was going to happen that quick," he said."

The inpatient portion of the hospital stopped accepting patients about four months ago.

Johnson says changes in healthcare administration, have lead to a gap in funding for Copper Basin, and less of a need for it too.

"Healthcare has changed," Johnson said. "Now, we have helicopters to come pick us up. We have immediate care facilities."

The shut down means a longer commute for those use the hospital though.

The next closest facility is in Fannin County, 15 miles away.

"I wouldn't say it worries me," Brown said. "I would rather be able to travel five minutes and get to here, but since it's closing I don't have any choice. I'll have to go somewhere else."

Johnson says the hospital is behind on its payroll. That means some of the employees that are about to be laid off have not been compensated yet. Johnson says that will happen eventually.

Johnson says, “We’re a small, rural hospital and it’s hard for us to adapt with the all the changes in healthcare. We had no choice.”

He tells us people still have access to other emergency services in the area, like in Murphy and Blairsville in North Carolina, as well as in Cleveland and Chattanooga.

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