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Phoebe takes Palmyra, state to court to prevent new birthing center

Photo by Bill Strickland

Photo by Bill Strickland

Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital is going to court in an effort to prevent Palmyra Medical Center from offering maternity services.

On Tuesday, Phoebe filed a petition for judicial review against the Georgia Department of Community Health and Palmyra Medical Center, asking that the court review and overturn the state agency's Dec. 18, 2009, final order empowering Palmyra to offer Level 1 Perinatal Service in a 10-county area service area that includes Dougherty County.

Phoebe contends the certificate of need that was given to Palmyra for a birthing center was in error and that a superior court judge should reverse that decision and deny the certificate application by Palmyra.

As an alternative, Phoebe says, the court should remand the certification to Community Health for further administrative proceedings before a final court review.

"DCH's decision to authorize Palmyra to establish an unnecessary and duplicative new basic perinatal service will inevitably have a direct effect on life and death or potential permanent disability for a number of babies and their mothers who seek perinatal services in a Dougherty County hospital," the complaint says.

Phoebe contends "undisputed evidence" reveals that 15-18 babies per year with unanticipated complications would be delivered at Palmyra. Those babies would have to be transported two miles to Phoebe, which has a Level 3 birthing center. "Undiputed evidence established that those sick babies requiring neonatal transport would be at substantially increased risk of poor outcomes, including potential death and lifetime disabilities," the filing states.

The case has been assigned to Dougherty Superior Court Judge Denise Marshall.

Updates will be filed as details become available.