Originally created 08/11/00

Tattnall hospital to reopen



REIDSVILLE, Ga. - Tattnall Memorial Hospital, built as a public facility in 1974, no longer belongs to the people of Tattnall County.

But the 40-bed rural facility will be reopening, with a smaller staff than before, as soon as it gets its hospital license reissued.

First Choice Healthcare acquired Reidsville's Tattnall Memorial Hospital on Wednesday. No money changed hands in the deal. First Choice, based in Peachtree City, took over from the Tattnall Hospital Authority the hospital's liabilities andassets.

First Choice also agreed to pay the county 10 percent of after-tax hospital profits each year.

Tattnall Memorial closed to patients in April after it ran out of money to operate.

The president and CEO of First Choice, Jim Burnette, said the hospital's assets are about $2.5 million. Its liabilities are about $3.5 million, including about $335,000 owed to the county.

But Mr. Burnette is betting that the hospital can be turned around even though First Choice - a subsidiary of a health-care consulting firm called Clinical Strategies - was formed specifically to buy Tattnall Memorial and has no experience in hospital ownership.

Mr. Burnette is getting assistance from some of the creditors, who have agreed to give the hospital six months to get going before they try to collect what's owed them.

Mr. Burnette will retain about two-thirds as many employees as the hospital's former staff, which consisted of about 70 to 80 full-time positions.

When Tattnall will reopen has not been determined.

"The official answer is `as soon as possible,'ƒ" Mr. Burnette said.

The hospital first must get its operating license reissued by the Department of Human Resources.