South Georgia Medical Center CEO Randy Sauls Reviews State of Health Care in 2013

Barbara Kieker

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

For large health care providers like the South Georgia Medical Center, demographic trends in the region have a major impact on the state of health care.  According to SGMC CEO Randy Sauls, the number of uninsured adults in the region has increased as has demand for health services due to population growth.

“When health care reform begins to be implemented in 2014, more people will be covered by insurance and that will benefit health care providers,” Sauls said.  “But we are uncertain what the level of reimbursement will be.”

The payor mix for SGMC is currently 40 percent Medicare, 20 percent Medicaid, 7 percent Tricare, which is the federal program for military personnel, and about 15 percent commercial insurance.  The remainder is uncompensated care or people that qualify for SGMC’s indigent care program.

“Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements are below our costs.  At some point, we will be unable to shift costs to insured patients and in fact, many hospitals are already feeling the pressure,” Sauls said.

“The focus at most hospitals is on controlling costs.  No one wants to make cuts to services.”

The state of Georgia has decided not to embrace the federal expansion of Medicaid or set up its own health insurance exchange. SGMC is working with local legislators and agencies and the Georgia Hospital Association to monitor developments as federal rules are written in 2013.  According to Sauls, there will be a three- to five-year phase-in period for the new federal health care rules beginning in 2014.

60 Years of Service to the Community

“Regardless of what happens with the rules, SGMC will remain a legacy institution that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Sauls said.

“People don’t really think about that until they need us.”

SGMC serves Valdosta and supports smaller hospitals in surrounding rural communities. The region’s population continues to grow and SGMC continually develops new capabilities so that people can stay in region for medical care.

In 2013, the new Dasher Memorial Heart Center and Patient Tower is scheduled to open with 96 private patient rooms, a larger cardiac, medical and surgical intensive care unit and cath labs.  The latest in cardiac technology and procedures positions SGMC as a premier health care provider in the region.

Additionally, for a little more than a year SGMC has had a daVinci robot to perform minimally invasive surgeries.  Its Pearlman Cancer Center is the region’s only comprehensive cancer treatment center and SGMC has the region’s largest emergency department.

“We offer a number of specialties and sub-specialties so we have a lot of transfers and referrals into our hospital,” Sauls said.

“Because we have a population large enough to maintain a number of sub-practices, we have been able to attract physicians to our community.”

Primary care, family care and internal medicine are the practice areas with physician shortages nationally.  They are also in short supply in southern Georgia.

More information on SGMC is available at

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About Barbara Kieker

Barbara Kieker is a freelance writer who writes on business-related topics for a number of web-based properties. She also provides communications services to Fortune 500 corporations, small businesses and nonprofit organizations.