ALBANY, Ga. — The Hospital Authority of Albany-Dougherty County followed through Wednesday on its plan to consolidate its two Albany hospitals under one lease.
The Hospital Authority has approved an amended and fully restated lease for Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, which includes Phoebe North. Effective on Wednesday, Phoebe North — formerly Palmyra Medical Center — and Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital will be combined under a single lease, officials say.
The unanimous vote, which a motion from Vice Chairman Dr. Charles Lingle and a second from the Rev. H.B. Johnson, was conducted after the board’s closed session, which was roughly 90 minutes long.
A public hearing took place on May 24, during which time comments came from an overflow crowd regarding their feelings on the forthcoming lease. Dougherty County Commissioner John Hayes, the commission’s representative on the Authority, made a note of mentioning before the lease’s approval that the public ought to be made aware that the comments made at the hearing to the Hospital Authority were taken into consideration.
This was followed by a few of the other Authority members stating that the board had indeed deliberated on the issues, and that the consolidation of the two facilities would not diminish the quality or value of care.
“Overall, we will be able to provide better care for the community,” said Lingle. “People will no longer have to travel long distances for the care they need.”
The Authority’s chairman, Ralph Rosenberg, echoed that sentiment.
“(The feedback) was thoroughly discussed,” he said after the meeting. “We felt like what we did today will benefit the health care needs of the community.
“This is something the community will be proud of, and this board will do its duty as required by the Georgia Hospital Authorities Law.”
The Authority also approved the “VPILOT” agreement that had been passed by the Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital board on July 11, which solidifies a commitment for officials to make a payment in lieu of taxes on Phoebe North.
The idea behind this agreement, officials have said, is to ensure the $195 million purchase of the 18 properties connected to Palmyra — which became a non-profit following its acquisition — would not have an impact on the tax base.
The payment for this calendar year, according to the agreement, is expected to be $376,612.01 — set to be paid on or before Dec. 20. This was the amount of ad valorem tax paid with respect to the acquired tangible properties in 2011, officials say.
The agreement further states that the payments, expected to be made annually, would be impacted by changes to the Dougherty County, Albany and Dougherty County School System millage rates — so that the annual payments would continue to equal what would be paid in taxes — as well as future changes reflecting the fair market value of Phoebe North properties.