On an annual basis through the life of Phoebe North’s lease, Phoebe Putney Health System officials say they will be making payments to be used for the same purposes as ad valorem tax on the properties acquired through the hospital’s purchase.
ALBANY — After several delays, what has been a year in the making for the Phoebe Putney Health System has become a reality.
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital conducted a welcome ceremony and celebration for the employees of Phoebe North, formerly known as Palmyra Medical Center, at the newly acquired hospital Friday.
Phoebe’s newest employees will be welcomed with a series of activities, including a Phoebe HealthWorks open house for Phoebe North campus employees and their spouses to tour the employee fitness center.
The Hospital Authority of Albany-Dougherty County and Hospital Corporation of America, the former owners of the facility, have signed final agreements on the Palmyra Medical Center purchase.
On the Phoebe North campus Friday, sign covers could be seen over Palmyra signs. Former Palmyra employees, who had been required to sign up for new benefits by Thursday night, could also be seen wearing new Phoebe badges.
The authority purchased the hospital and its local assets. Ownership of Palmyra officially switched hands at 12:01 a.m. Friday.
Phoebe officials said they would pay the $570,000 in property taxes Palmyra previously paid to Dougherty County. Tom Sullivan will serve as chief transition officer, and Maureen Jackson will serve as chief nursing officer and chief operating officer.
Sullivan has been serving as senior vice president of strategy and development at the main campus, while Jackson has been serving as the vice president of surgical services at the other Albany hospital.
Phoebe officials say they will continue to evaluate future uses for the newly acquired hospital as they begin consolidation of services at the two Albany hospital campuses.
Phoebe North has 248 beds and 431 employees. Services currently offered there include surgical services, emergency services, diabetes treatment, acute care and inpatient and outpatient rehab.
It has been previously mentioned that there is a possibility of turning Phoebe North into a specialty hospital, which has not been ruled out.
“We have a group of people working on that,” Jackson said. “When we figure that out, we will communicate it to the public.
“It has been a long year. It taught us patience but helped give us time to work out the transition.”
The transition process has been a long time in the making.
“We starting working as early as Tuesday and have had daily meetings with the transition team,” Sullivan said. “We’ve worked hard to get to where we are.”
Ralph Rosenberg, chair of the Hospital Authority, has given a charge for the Phoebe Putney Health System to continue to strive to be a superior health care system.
“The authority believes what we did a year ago was a logical step for (assuring the health care needs of Southwest Georgia),” he said. “There has been so much hard work from so many.
“This is exciting. We have met so many challenges, and we have been successful at those challenges.”
Officials also addressed the ongoing criticism of the consolidation and the blending of two families that came out of the ashes of what was once a cross-town rivalry.
“That rivalry is going to be turned,” Phoebe CEO Joel Wernick said. “That energy will be turned to creating a superior health delivery system.
“We are impressed by what we see here. We see some of what will be a step up from what we have down the street.”
Lisa Pinkston, who had been an HCA employee for 26 years, seemed excited about the potential the consolidation could bring.
“We’ve had two sides come together, and we are a big family now. Both sides are open to doing things differently,” she said. “(The health system) will be a leader for the community, and it will be the best thing for the community.
“It will be phenomenal.”
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital is a part of Phoebe Putney Health System, which has several other affiliated entities, including Phoebe Sumter Medical Center, Phoebe Worth Medical Center, Morningside of Albany and several health clinics and medical outreach programs in Southwest Georgia.
Management agreements are in place at Dorminy Medical Center in Fitzgerald and in Cuthbert at Southwest Georgia Regional Medical Center.