It appears Little River-Rockdale Hospital, and local medical facilities, will close on Dec. 7.

Dick Burns, president of the Rockdale Hospital District board confirmed Friday afternoon that employees of Little River Healthcare received a communication earlier in the afternoon stating that services would be discontinued that day.

LRHC had essentially been on "life support" since early Novemeber when rumors began to circulate LRHC was changing its bankruptcy status from Chapter 11 (reorganize) to Chapter 7 (liquidate). LRHC officials were adamant at that time the status had not changed but Burns told The Reporter Friday that the status had indeed changed and the facilities were targeted for closing.

"I'm not sure exactly how that works, exactly when the remaining employees will be laid off," Burns said. "It may, indeed be next Friday (Dec. 7), but it could even be sooner in the week."

The hospital board had been involved in efforts to find a "strategic partner" to keep the facilities open but the letter stated one had not been found by the afternoon of Nov. 30 (apparently the deadline), triggering the closings.

Burns said the hospital board will continue its search for such a partner, though. He voiced the hope some kind of medical facility, even an emergency room, might be in Rockdale's future but noted there are many complex procedures involved with shutting down medical facilities.

LRHC had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy July 24.

Also affected are local clinics and Cameron facilities also owned by LRHC.

Friday's letter came from the chief restructuring officer in the complex bankruptcy.

Burns expressed "extreme disappointment." "It is just getting harder and harder to maintain a rural facility like this one without a partner," he said. "We have fought the good fight."

It was the fifth, and apparently final, crisis in the history of the hospital, which opened its doors in December, 1974, almost exactly 44 years to day from what looks to be its final day of operation.

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