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Wernick: February closing is likely

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- The purchase of Palmyra Medical Center was done in part to ease capacity issues at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, and officials are making their way toward sealing the deal.

When the acquisition was announced last month, it was estimated that closing would take place before the end of January. Now, due to the complexities involved, it appears it may take a little longer than that.

"We are engaged in all activities that will take place leading to closing," said Phoebe CEO Joel Wernick. "There are a lot of license and regulatory transfers.

"It may bleed into February."

Wernick has stated that the acquisition will not result in any layoffs. There are no plans in place for a reduction in force, the CEO said.

Wernick also gave an update on Fitzgerald's Dorminy Medical Center partnership announced in September. A letter of intent has turned into a management agreement -- which is expected to be approved in the coming weeks.

"We should have the final lease in place by mid- to- late spring," the CEO said.

At Phoebe's board meeting Wednesday, Tommy Chambless, senior vice president and general counsel for the health system, presented for approval a resolution amending the board's bylaws. Specifically, the amendment changed the definition of an independent director.

A majority of board members must be independent, meaning that they do not have any material relationship with the corporation, the hospital or any of its subsidiaries.

"Now, parties connected to the organization will be determined as blood relatives up through grandchildren, and in-laws have been taken out," Chambless said of the amendment.

The board meeting was the first for Dr. Steven Wolinsky, the new medical staff president. It was also the first meeting since Tim Trottier came on as Phoebe's senior vice president of regional operations.

Trottier, who started working in Albany Monday, has the responsibility of bringing all the facilities in the health system in harmony with each other.

"The outlying Phoebe hospitals will report to me directly," Trottier said. "The position was created to evolve the current organization into a system-wide organization.

"It's a very finely-run organization. I feel privileged to be a part of it."

Trottier was most recently the project CEO at Community Health Systems in Easton, Pa. He earned a master's degree in business administration from Oklahoma City University and a bachelor's degree in business administration from Seattle University.