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Authority approves audit, receives program update

The Hospital Authority of Albany and Dougherty County had a full agenda Thursday morning, which included construction and program updates, as well as an approval of its 2008-09 audit.

The auditor's report, presented by Lin Harris of Draffin and Tucker, included the financial statements for the authority as of July 31, 2009, and 2008. The balance sheets showed its total liabilities and unrestricted net assets to be at $20,738 in 2009, and $24,187 in 2008.

On the Medical College of Georgia front, it was decided that all the students who applied to relocate to the Southwest Georgia Clinical Campus, based at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, are being accepted.

"We have decided we can take all 17," said Dr. Doug Patten, senior vice president of medical affairs at the hospital.

A former middle school across the street from Phoebe is currently being renovated for use as classroom space for the students. Officials expect the building to be ready in the coming weeks.

"We hope to take occupancy the first of April," Patten said.

Officials also announced their goal to eventually establish a medical student village for physician-hopefuls to set up residency.

"The goal we have here is to think (10 years) in advance," said Joel Wernick, Phoebe CEO. "When people think of medical school education they used to think Augusta. In the future, they will think of Albany; that is the vision."

Tom Sullivan, vice president and executive director of Phoebe Foundation, gave an update on the campaign funding the Willson Hospice House -- which is now $7 million strong.

"We've reached our goal," he said. "I think it's the largest capital campaign in the history of Albany, Ga."

The funds came from various sources, including volunteers -- which accounted for $750,000. A grand opening and ribbon-cutting is set for the facility, located off of North Westover Boulevard near Darton College, at 2 p.m. May 23.

The facility will include a main office building accompanied by three pods with six patient rooms a piece, as well as an 8,500-foot long walking trail that has been dubbed the Lopez Trail for LPGA Hall of Fame golfer and Albany resident Nancy Lopez.

"It would be my hope that we see a lot of people there constantly using the trail," Wernick said.

In other news, Patten announced that the Southwest Georgia Family Medicine Residency program is being expanded to include six residents in the next class. The program has previously had five slots open for each incoming class.