Twenty-two out in Albany hospital merger

Palmyra Medical Center

Palmyra Medical Center

ALBANY, Ga. -- While the majority of Palmyra Medical Center employees qualify to be retained by Phoebe Putney Health System after the Hospital Authority of Dougherty County completes the purchase of the private hospital, 22 will not make the transition.

Phoebe Health System would contract with the authority to operate Palmyra, which would be transformed into a not-for-profit facility renamed Phoebe North, once the $195 million purchase is completed.

Phoebe CEO Joel Wernick has said officials hope to complete the transaction next month. Palmyra is now owned by Hospital Corporation of America (HCA).

In an interview this month, Wernick said no layoffs or reductions in force were planned in connection with the acquisition, but Phoebe officials said the purchase agreement did specify Palmyra personnel who would become Phoebe personnel must meet eligibility requirements.

Phoebe was required to give the list of employees who did not meet those eligibility requirements to Palmyra by Friday.

"The Asset Purchase Agreement (APA) calls for employment of the Palmyra personnel to end at closing," Jackie Ryan, assistant vice president of marketing for Phoebe, said Friday afternoon. "It also contemplates that those same employees will become Phoebe employees at closing.

"Under the agreement, Phoebe was required to submit employees who did not meet eligibility by a given date (Friday). Out of the workforce at Palmyra, consisting of 466 employees, 22 employees did not qualify as reviewed against the agreed upon standards. These are never easy decisions, but it is important for the vast majority of the work force to know they will have a job through the transition and after the closing."

Ryan said Phoebe officials reviewed each of the 22 cases in which Palmyra employees didn't meet criteria.

"As promised, each employee who did not meet the criteria was reviewed individually to assure that each was thoroughly assessed before making these determinations as directed in the APA," Ryan said. "We are pleased to know that HCA has offered severance packages or other opportunities in their organization."

Palmyra provided a statement Friday afternoon through its spokesman Eric Riggle: "The agreement between the authority and Palmyra calls for the buyer to hire substantially all of Palmyra's employees with the exception of any that may not meet the buyer's eligibility requirements.

"The authority has informed us that about 20 employees may not meet these requirements and we, in turn, have informed the employees. We will provide severance or offers of placement elsewhere within HCA as appropriate for any who they do not hire."