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Northeast Georgia Medical Center extends coverage into Habersham with new partnership
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The Habersham Medical Center in Demorest. Photo courtesy Habersham Medical Center.

Habersham Medical Center is partnering with the Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville to support its emergency department and inpatient services.

Starting July 1, physician groups that serve NGMC Gainesville will extend their coverage to the 53-bed hospital in Demorest.

“We’re excited about this move to improve how both hospitals work together to care for our mutual patients in the right place at the right time,” Lynn Boggs, CEO for Habersham Medical Center, said in a statement. “This should assure anyone who currently travels to Gainesville for these services that they can receive high-quality care without leaving Habersham County.”

A partnership between the two entities has been in discussion for several years. In January 2017, a nonbinding letter of intent between Habersham Medical and the Northeast Georgia Health System was made public, showing consideration of an agreement to share resources and services.

A similar letter of intent had expired in 2014. At that time, Habersham Medical Center was dealing with some financial difficulties. The hospital was struggling to make bond payments stemming from $37 million it borrowed to expand its emergency room, outpatient surgery and make other improvements.

Both hospitals will now work to establish a new leadership structure that serves both locations.

“These physicians and leaders will work collaboratively with HMC’s current emergency and inpatient staff to share best practices that have been implemented at NGMC and help oversee other quality and care delivery measures,” Louis Smith, president of NGMC Gainesville, said in a statement.

The two hospitals participate in the HP2 network, a group of insurers, hospitals and more than 480 providers in North Georgia who collaborate to improve patient care.

On Tuesday, the Hospital Authority of Habersham County approved both the agreement with NGMC Gainesville and the decision to participate in HP2. The Northeast Georgia Health System was a founding member of HP2.