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Appeals Court overturns perinatal decisions against Palmyra hospital

Palmyra Medical Center

Palmyra Medical Center

ATLANTA -- The Georgia Court of Appeals has reversed two Superior Court rulings denying Palmyra Medical Center a certificate of need to provide basic perinatal services.

Superior Court judges in Dougherty and Sumter counties tossed out the Georgia Department of Community Health's decision to grant Palmyra the right to provide maternity services, saying the agency overstepped its bounds under a 2008 revision by the Georgia Legislature of the state's CON laws.

The Appeals Court, in its July 5 ruling, combined the four cases in which Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital and Phoebe Sumter Medical Center sought to have the CON invalidated. The DCH also had appeals against the two hospitals.

Palmyra officials welcomed the news.

"We are pleased there is an option to pursue bringing this service to our patient care offerings. Going forward Palmyra will await the results of the proposed hospital sale before determining how best to proceed," Palmyra Spokesman Eric Riggle said.

In the opinion, Appeal Court Presiding Judge Anne Elizabeth Barnes wrote: "The record includes substantial evidence to support the agency's findings of fact, and the conclusions of law drawn from those findings of fact are sound. Pruitt Corp., 284 Ga. at 161. Accordingly, because the agency's decision to grant Palmyra's CON application was not based on legal error or unlawful procedures, was not arbitrary or capricious, and did not prejudice the opposing parties' substantial rights, we reverse the superior courts' orders to the contrary."

It's been a busy week for the legal teams of both hospitals.

On Wednesday the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the Federal Trade Commission and issued an emergency injunction temporarily barring Phoebe's $195 million acquisition of Palmyra while the FTC appeals a district court ruling.

The two hospitals had been set to consummate the merger by 6 p.m. this past Wednesday.