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Phoebe responds to Georgia Appeals Court ruling

Photo by J.D. Sumner

Photo by J.D. Sumner

ALBANY, Ga. -- Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital is still mulling over its options after the Georgia Court of Appeals earlier this week struck down two previous lower court rulings and upheld Palmyra Medical Centers Certificate of Need for a maternity center.

Phoebe issued the following statement Friday morning:

"We believe the rulings of Superior Court of Dougherty County and Superior Court of Sumter County were correctly decided. We are disappointed in the decision by the Georgia Court of Appeals to overturn those rulings which denied Palmyra Medical Center a certificate of need to provide basic perinatal services.

"Phoebe's position remains that there is no need for a second OB program in our community. Phoebe has reinvested significant resources to provide mothers and babies with the highest levels of safety, including a neonatal intensive care unit, and a second program would compromise quality and safety. We will be reviewing the Court's order and determining future directions."

The Georgia Court of Appeals on Tuesday reversed two Superior Court rulings denying Palmyra 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."