UPDATE: Oconee Regional hospital files for bankruptcy protection

UPDATE: On the same day Oconee Regional Medical Center officials voted to approve a sale, they also asked a federal bankruptcy court to protect them from their creditors.

The hospital filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Macon.

In their filing, Oconee Regional said they had more than $10 million in liabilities and listed 49 pages of creditors.

They ranged from medical practices to Georgia Power to a laundry service to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The federal agency claims that Oconee owes them nearly $1.5 million in overpayments, but the hospital disputes that.

Oconee says they're suffering from financial problems like many rural hospitals -- due to aging populations, declining government payments, increasing numbers of uninsured patients and lower patient volumes.

They say they've cut costs as much as they can, and hospital officials believe their only way out is a sale to an outside company.

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After years of struggling to stay afloat, Oconee Regional Medical Center is finally seeing some relief. 

Prime Healthcare Services, based in California, bought the hospital. Both entities entered into the sale agreement Wednesday.

The process to transfer ownership will take around 90 days. During the time, the hospital will continue to operate daily.

Georgia law says the sale agreement will be reviewed by the Attorney General's office. That review will include a public hearing to allow for community input. The date and location for the hearing will be set at a later date.

Primecare Health Services currently own 44 hospitals in 14 states, including Southern Regional Medical Center in Clayton County.

The hospital entered into an agreement with the Medical Center, Navicent Health in Macon, but it ended in late 2015.

© 2017 WMAZ-TV


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