Dear Editor: For those of us who make Northeast Georgia home, the news that a local hospital in Commerce is shutting its doors should be alarming because access to healthcare is important whether you or a family member needs care.

Surgeries at Northridge Medical Center have been suspended there for more than a year, and patients have had to drive to have procedures performed at hospitals in Athens, Gainesville or metro Atlanta.

That’s why physicians like myself support two pending applications before the state of Georgia — one by Northside Hospital and one by Northeast Georgia Medical Center — to open outpatient surgery centers in nearby Braselton.

Each hospital system would open an outpatient facility that would allow doctors to perform safe, routine procedures ranging from simple appendectomies to coronary angioplasty to orthopedic joint repairs.

Outpatient surgery centers provide a faster route to in-home recovery and less chance of exposure to other diseases present in hospital settings – including any potential exposure to COVID-19.

Jackson County’s population continues to explode – growing more than 150% since 1990.

With that in mind, the more healthcare options area residents can have, the better for their health. Physicians like myself are locating to Northeast Georgia to care for patients, but what we don’t have is access to is enough surgical space.

While some patients will always need complex procedures performed in a hospital, more and more surgeries can be treated safely in outpatient centers. This is an effective and convenient healthcare choice Jackson citizens need now that Northridge can no longer serve their needs.


Craig Brown, MD


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