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Digestive center to open this autumn

Phoebe Putney Health System CEO Joel Wernick, left, reads a resolution that was approved by the Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital Board of Directors honoring Dr. Edward Oleen. Oleen, right, recently retired from the Phoebe Cancer Center after working with the hospital for 24 years.

Phoebe Putney Health System CEO Joel Wernick, left, reads a resolution that was approved by the Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital Board of Directors honoring Dr. Edward Oleen. Oleen, right, recently retired from the Phoebe Cancer Center after working with the hospital for 24 years.

ALBANY — Officials at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital say progress continues to be made on the Phoebe Digestive Disease Center at the Meredyth Place complex, with the potential for growth at the site in future years.

The three-story, 85,000-square-foot digestive disease center — which officials say represents a $30 million investment — is being designed to serve as an “outpatient destination” for patients.

Ground was broken for the center in August, and officials say the construction is approximately one month ahead of schedule. A certificate of occupancy is anticipated on Oct. 5, with its first patient expected to walk in the door on Oct. 30.

While the digestive center is the major development ongoing at the site, Phoebe officials say there is still potential for growth at the complex in coming years.

“We have four of five buildings that we have space for,” said Joe Austin, chief operating officer for Phoebe Putney Health System. “There is about 40 acres there. There is plenty of room to expand the campus. We have the dirt to expand on.”

In the meantime, talks continue regarding the fate of the former Ordinary Coyote building. The former restaurant, which sits adjacent to the Meredyth complex, could soon become home to the complex’s Starbucks location, officials say.

“We continue to talk with the Starbucks folks (for guidance on this),” Phoebe Putney Health System CEO Joel Wernick said.

In regard to Phoebe North, Wernick added that deliberations are ongoing in the process officials say will lead to a lease on the facility. In the meantime, both Phoebe and the Federal Trade Commission are awaiting word on whether the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case regarding the FTC’s opposition of the hospital’s acquisition.

Also at Wednesday’s hospital board meeting, a resolution was passed honoring Dr. Edward Oleen, an oncologist with the Phoebe Cancer Center who recently retired after practicing at Phoebe for 24 years.

He was the second oncologist to be hired for Phoebe after Dr. Phillip Roberts, for whom the pavilion at the cancer center is named.

In the days leading up to his retirement, and the days since, Oleen has been described as one of the hardest-working physicians on staff.

“The work ethic of Dr. Oleen and Dr. Roberts was to not say no to any patient,” said Wernick. “They were known for working 18-20-hour days.

“He is truly a brilliant clinician that takes the family (of a patient’s) needs to heart.”

The board was in closed session for more than an hour, with one of the items discussed being a supply chain improvement project. A resolution regarding the project, which authorizes the health system to execute any and all documents necessary to assist the hospital in improving its supply chain process as a part of the health system, was approved once the board came back into open session.

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