Monroe County patient population increasing since year after almost closing

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FORSYTH, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – The Monroe County Hospital’s patient population has doubled. Despite nearly closing a year ago, the hospital seems to be getting back on its feet.

This time last year, hospital management and county commissioners were fighting to keep the doors of the Monroe County Hospital open. Board members came up with plans to downsize just to keep the hospital from closing, but thanks to recent numbers, downsizing is no longer in their plans.

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“We’re staying near capacity quite often,” said Monroe County Hospital Chairman, Todd Tolbert. “That has been a tremendous benefit to the finances of the hospital.”

From filling about 5 out to 25 beds on average, to almost tripling that number.

“On average we’re sitting at about 14, but there have been days where our census has been as high as 20,” said Monroe County Hospital Administrator, Lorraine Smith.



About a year ago, Todd Tolbert led the ‘Save the Hospital’ campaign, now he’s leading the hospital’s board as the Chairman.

“Our initial plan was to rent out the entire top floor to a nursing home facility just to kind of use the space,” said Tolbert.

That would also minimize expenses. Thanks to the census increasing, Smith says game plan has changed.

“Our new game plan now is to keep the whole hospital as it is,” said Smith. “Basically refinish it to bring it modern. Update the finishes and other features.”

The $2 million construction will give the outside of the hospital a face-lift, as well as enhance patient care.

“Currently we have two beds that are private rooms and two rooms that are semi private rooms, which means there’s two beds in one room that are just separated by a curtain or a thin wall,” said RN Director, Casey Fleckenstein.

After renovations, each bed in the emergency department will have its own room.

“It’s going to look different, it’s going to feel different and people are going to be really excited about coming here,” said Tolbert. “As bad as they feel, only coming here when things are going south, but they’re going to have a piece of mind knowing that they’re coming to a class A facility.”

Smith says the hospital is making enough money to pay its bills because of the increase in patients coming through. The hospital has also been able to stay open because of a tax millage rate increase residents voted on in March. Tolbert is hoping to have that tax increase lifted in the next three years.

The $2 million for hospital construction is coming out of the $10 million in bond money. Construction is expected to start in the next few months.