Phoebe North transition continues

Officials are planning for Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital and Phoebe North to be operating under one license by Aug. 1.

ALBANY, Ga. — One of the main priorities for the Hospital Authority of Albany-Dougherty County now is to work its newest hospital into Phoebe Putney Health System.

That process is ongoing.

The authority met at Phoebe North Thursday, its first such gathering since the acquisition of the Palmyra Road facility last month, to primarily deal with items pertaining to the hospital including execution of contracts, interim financial reports and getting a lease together.

In the days since the $195 million transaction went through, one of the more obvious changes is not only the signage, but security procedures. Over the past several weeks, visitors have been issued guest passes and have had to log in.

So far, Phoebe North has averaged 1,000 passes every eight days. More recently, it has been 1,000 passes every four days.

Currently, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital and Phoebe North are operating under separate licenses. The goal is to consolidate the two hospitals under the same license — a process officials say will likely take until Aug. 1, by which time it is anticipated a lease arrangement will be in place and management care contract details will be worked out.

In order to get that process going, the authority approved a resolution allowing its legal counsel to recommence efforts to draft a lease document. That process was suspended on May 5, 2011, while the Federal Trade Commission was trying to halt the acquisition of the hospital, formerly known as Palmyra Medical Center.

When the purchase closed, Palmyra’s contracts were assumed by Phoebe and continue to be honored, officials say.

Officials are also working to get medical personnel credentialed at both facilities if they are not already.

In the meantime, while the services there before the sale continue to be offered, long-term plans for Phoebe North are being worked out. Joe Austin, chief operating officer for the health system, said this process will likely take several months.

“It will be May or June before I can come back to you to tell you what we are thinking,” he told the Hospital Authority on Thursday.

Something else the authority approved regarding Phoebe North was the execution of contracts concerning the course of operations at the hospital, and what does or does not need the authority’s approval.

Previous documentation required the authority’s approval if contracts were in the amount of $10,000 or more, which officials deemed not operationally possible.

“We quickly caught that and thought this needed to be changed,” said Tommy Chambless, senior vice president and general counsel for Phoebe Health System.

The amount has now been increased to $50,000. The resolution also states that the purchase of maintenance and repair services considered reasonably necessary in the course of ordinary operations will not require authority approval.

This includes pharmaceuticals, consumable medical supplies, maintenance of medical equipment and replenishment of stocked items.

Austin and Tom Sullivan, chief transition officer at Phoebe North, have been authorized to execute contracts on the Hospital Authority’s behalf.

After a 50-minute closed session to discuss medical staff credentials and litigation, Kerry Loudermilk, Phoebe’s chief financial officer, went over financial reports that included the initial operating results at Phoebe North.

The report showed a financial outlook indicating that gross patient revenue at the hospital would be $160 million for Fiscal Year 2012, with $404,661 in other operating revenue.

Operating expenses came out to be $40 million, with a net revenue of $38 million. This makes for an operating income loss of $2 million.

At the same time, total capital expenditures will be at $4.7 million.