When a hospital shut down in Wheeler County, that left a lot of people in a rural town worried about where to go for healthcare, especially in emergencies.


Since the Lower Oconee Community Hospital closed its doors, it's been a burden for everyone who lives in Wheeler County. That means if you're sick, you have to drive 30 miles away to the nearest hospital.

There's Dublin, Vidalia, and Hazelhurst. Those are the three closest hospitals to Glenwood.

Lack of money closed the 25-bed Lower Oconee Community Hospital last Wednesday.

It once served the Glenwood community, along with people from Telfair county after the hospital in McRae closed.
It's a persistent problem in rural areas.

"I guess for a lack of better times, it's the sign of the times. The smaller hospitals are not able to compete with some of the other regional hospitals," said Glenwood mayor, G.M. Joiner.

About 100 people are now out of a job. Joiner considers this a big hit to the small town of just under 900.

And he's not alone. Ruth Banks knows several people who were saved by doctors from this very hospital.

"If that person had to be transferred, I don't know what would've happened to him. People are concerned, and yes, we have options but they are anywhere from 20 to 30 miles away," said Banks.

This also leaves Wheeler County sheriff, Maurice Johnson, concerned over the health of his inmates and the state of his funds.

"It's going to cost us money as far as overtime for deputies, fuel, and wear and tear on vehicles," said Johnson.

"This hospital closing closing is going to be, probably, very great, if not devastating for our little town of Glenwood," Banks said.

Last week, CEO Karen O'Neal, said they'd been having financial troubles for years and the owners hoped to bring an urgent-care center to the site.