This week the Hospital Authority of Albany and Dougherty County will hear comments on the lease agreement to transfer operations of Phoebe North to Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital. Not surprisingly, there is a campaign of misinformation. But the citizens deserve to know that Phoebe’s volunteer board of directors — people who live and work in this community — have been exceptional stewards of their assets.
Now the Authority will lease a new asset, Phoebe North, to improve services and expand access to care. Consolidation of health care resources is a sound decision echoed across the country. The national healthcare landscape today more than ever demands consolidation for the future viability of delivery. Look around Georgia, where consolidations are occurring north, south, east and west of us — and with enormous benefit. We need only look at the growth and quality of our healthcare resources here to understand Phoebe’s role in the health of our community. Modern health care will be delivered best by the most efficient, integrated health care systems.
It’s an easy checklist — largest employer, nearly $1 billion in economic impact that benefits everyone, more than $120 million in community benefits annually and advanced technologies and the best medical professionals available anywhere. Such was not the case in 1990, when the Authority authorized the creation of the Health System and Hospital Boards. The challenge handed to those boards by the Authority through the leasing arrangement was to make Phoebe grow to its fullest potential to serve the citizens of this region. Everything that has been developed and built since then — including facilities, services, technologies and programs — is the result of that decision and (through the Hospital Authority) belongs to the citizens of Albany and Dougherty County.
But above all else there is the mission — Phoebe Putney has done all of the above and delivered on a promise to care for everyone regardless of ability to pay. Prudent management of the Authority’s assets has improved services and expanded access while eliminating the taxpayer’s payment for indigent care.
Our focus remains on the patients, their families, and the communities we serve. We will continue to partner with the doctors, nurses and health care professionals who have made the community’s health and healing their top priority.
Those who oppose this arrangement offer no alternative solution that guarantees access to all, and burden to none. As the chairmen of the Phoebe Health System and Hospital Boards, we can attest to the commitment we have made to ensure access, not just for today but for decades to come.
Lem Griffin is chairman of Phoebe Health System Board and John Culbreath is chairman of Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital.