ALBANY -- A new resolution approved by the Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital board Wednesday will allow the staff at its new Albany sister hospital to operate with more flexibility in regards to what does or does not need an OK from the Hospital Authority of Albany-Dougherty County.
There had been a provision in the books at the time of the facility's Dec. 15 acquisition that required Phoebe North, formerly Palmyra Medical Center, to get prior approval from the Hospital Authority on a contract amount that exceeded $10,000.
The resolution passed Wednesday ups that threshold to $50,000, which is similar to a resolution the authority passed in its first meeting of the year on Jan. 19.
The measure passed by the authority permitted Joe Austin, chief operating officer of Phoebe Putney Health System, and Tom Sullivan, chief transition officer at Phoebe North, to execute contracts on its behalf.
Prior to the approval of these resolutions, Hospital Authority Chair Ralph Rosenberg was called in on several occasions to sign off on things that officials indicated should not need the authority's approval in the course of maintaining the ordinary operations of Phoebe North.
"After the dust settled (on the acquisition), in the provisions was a limit of $10,000 (to contracts that could be followed through on) without the authority's approval," said Tommy Chambless, senior vice president and general counsel for Phoebe Putney Health System. "We decided this was not feasible.
"This (the measure approved by the board) lets us operate Phoebe North much the same way that we do Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital."
Sullivan gave an update on Phoebe North's transition into the health system, which he said will ultimately involve consolidation with Phoebe's flagship hospital.
"We are working on that now," he said. "For example, if the census is high at one facility, we are making sure we can move (staff) from one hospital to the other."
This effort will also include combining some of the departments within the two hospitals as well as blending of management staff. One example that has already been followed through on is the human resource and risk management departments, Sullivan said.
Officials are also working with a firm based in Dallas to help determine what the long-term future would be for the Palmyra Road hospital. One of the things being discussed is what it could look like as a specialty hospital.
A plan is expected to be in place in either May or June, Sullivan said. The two hospitals are expected to be operating under one license by Aug. 1.