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Rural Montezuma Emergency Room Could Close | Health

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Rural Montezuma Emergency Room Could Close
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Montezuma in rural Macon County is home to the area's only emergency room for more than 20 miles at Flint River Hospital.

But now, the privately-run hospital is considering scrapping the ER for an urgent care center, saying in a letter that it "will not only optimize reimbursement but will offer a cheaper alternative for the underinsured."

Macon County EMS Director Joe Weaver says it will actually lead to less care because urgent care centers can't handle more severe medical situations, and that ambulances would have to travel longer distances to either Americus or Perry.

"Any trauma, any heart attack, they won't be able to do a whole lot there for you," Weaver says.

He says currently, by the time an ambulance takes a call and brings someone to the hospital, it's around 20 minutes.  But they say if it were closed, it could take an hour and a half or more.

Weaver says he worries that may also lead to higher costs for Macon County to afford the longer ambulance trips.

The hospital also serves people who live in other small counties like Schley, Taylor, and Dooly - which also had an emergency room closing in Vienna.

Flint River Hospital would not comment other than to say a decision has not yet been made.  Because it's a privately-owned hospital, local leaders have not been able to force the hospital to keep the E.R.

"From a government aspect, we don't have a direct influence," says Macon County Manager Regina McDuffie.

Georgia State Rep. Patty Bentley (D-District 139) told 13WMAZ she, along with other officials plan to speak with the hospital to urge them to keep the emergency room open.

Follow 13WMAZ's Tom George on Twitter @thetomgeorge

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