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Phoebe reflects on public hearing, approves jail contract

From left, Tracy Morgan, the new vice president for women's and children's services at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, is introduced to the hospital board by Laura Shearer, senior vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer. Morgan started her duties at the hospital earlier this week.

From left, Tracy Morgan, the new vice president for women's and children's services at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, is introduced to the hospital board by Laura Shearer, senior vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer. Morgan started her duties at the hospital earlier this week.

ALBANY, Ga. -- As the drafting process for the lease on Phoebe North is ongoing, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital officials are reflecting on the feedback they received from the overflow crowd that came out for the May 24 public hearing regarding the lease.

Meanwhile, the contract has been renewed for health services provided for inmates at Dougherty County Jail.

At a Wednesday board meeting for Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, Phoebe CEO Joel Wernick recapped a previous presentation he made which included a historical overview, the growth of the Phoebe organization over time and the rationale for the "buy or build" decision behind the purchase of the former Palmyra Medical Center.

Among the points he presented included what the future holds for the hospital. While the long-term use for the facility has still yet to be ironed out, officials seem to be leaning toward turning its former competitor into a women's and children's services center, Wernick indicated.

Pertaining specifically to comments made at the public hearing last month, Wernick addressed an assertion that Phoebe is not paying taxes on property it has bought, but is not using for medical purposes.

"That is not true," Wernick said. "(We have a policy) that if we have property and it is not being used for tax-exempt purposes, we will pay taxes on it."

Tim Dill, hospital board member and the top executive at MillerCoors, addressed at the body's meeting accusations that companies have left Southwest Georgia -- or are not coming to the region at all -- because of health care costs.

Dill made his point by claiming that he had crunched some numbers and found that health care is costing his company $1.44 a barrel of beer, while the cost to transport the company's product is almost seven times higher.

"Do I wish the cost was lower, yes, but (the accusation) is not what's happening," he said.

Also among the business items brought before the board was the renewal of the contract for health services provided for inmates at Dougherty County Jail.

An 11th hour agreement between Phoebe and county officials resulted in a renegotiated contract that was originally worth $1.55 million to be cut by $643,000 -- causing the number of unpaid holidays for employees of Dougherty County to be reduced.

The approval of the renewal by the hospital board allowed the contract to be reinstated for one year beginning July 1. As part of the agreement, the county is expected to pay Phoebe roughly $913,000 over a one-year period in monthly installments of just more than $76,000, documents show.

A new vice president of women's and children's services was introduced to the board as well. Tracy Morgan, who has family ties to the Albany area, began her duties at the hospital earlier this week.

Comments

Cartman 2 years, 5 months ago

Joel. What happened to your promise to pay property taxes on the Palmyra property regardless of its use? Did you think we would forget? Are you paying it anyways, even though we are now going through the charade that the Hospital Authority owns it?

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willie 2 years, 5 months ago

If Mr. Wernick were to extend an olive branch of assistance to the Dougherty Law Enforcement Community, the citizens of the county should be greatful and appreciate his efforts of assistance.

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Trustbuster 2 years, 5 months ago

Well, I'm so proud of the fact that Phoebe doesn't have to pay taxes so long as it is nonprofit. But Joel what about competitive bidding on the Palmyra property. You still have not addressed this issue only used your surrogates like Culbreath and Griffin. Phoebe is awaiting the Supreme Court on this issue.

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Progressive 2 years, 5 months ago

What kind of games is Joel playing with saying their policy is to pay property taxes on properties not used for their exempt non-profit status. Facts are facts. Go to the online site for Dougherty County Tax Assessor's Office and do a search records by parcel number. Look at parcel # 0000P/00002/01A. The records indicate a property value of $6,363,470, but the assessed value is only $499,470. So Phoebe may be paying some property taxes, but not nearly what they should be. There are many other non-used properties that are also recorded as exempt from taxes. So if they are truly paying the property taxes, then the Tax Assessors office should post the correct information for how much is being paid.

Phoebe should also be required to sign an agreement to pay the appropriate market value property taxes on the Palmyra properties for the same time frame as they are requesting a $1 per year lease (e.g. 40 years).

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Trustbuster 2 years, 5 months ago

Agree, they should be paying the correct amount if that is the case. Also think about the off-shore accounts where the board members happen to hold their little annual retreats. Phoebe clearly operates outside the legal limits. How is it fair they are treated better in the tax assessor's office than me.

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Cartman 2 years, 5 months ago

Read the Herald story from December 16, 2011, entitled Palmyra Converts to Phoebe. A quote from the article: "Phoebe officials said they would pay the $570,000 in property taxes Palmyra previously paid to Dougherty County." Don't let Wernick forget.

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