ABC News / Associated Press, May 19, 2014
As rural hospitals struggle, Georgia is letting stand-alone emergency rooms treat people in the countryside who would otherwise have to drive far away when they break an arm, need stitches or have a baby. The state agency that licenses medical facilities changed its rules this year to allow a rural hospital that's failing or has already closed in the last year to scale back its operations and reopen as a freestanding emergency room. Before, emergency departments were only allowed at full-service hospitals that fulfilled criteria including having inpatient beds and other expensive requirements. Georgia's leaders backed the rule change allowing stand-alone ERs after three rural hospitals closed in 2013. Many are taking financial losses.