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Women's, children's center moving forward

Tracy Morgan, vice president of women’s and children’s services at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, discusses the developing plans for Phoebe North. In July, officials backed a plan to turn the facilility into a free-standing women’s and children’s center. taken 09-05-12. story by Jennifer. (jennifer.parks

Tracy Morgan, vice president of women’s and children’s services at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, discusses the developing plans for Phoebe North. In July, officials backed a plan to turn the facilility into a free-standing women’s and children’s center. taken 09-05-12. story by Jennifer. (jennifer.parks

ALBANY, Ga. -- The future of Phoebe North is coming together, with the first concept of the building's layout as a women's and children's center now having been brought together.

Following a set of stakeholder meetings in August, the plans for the hospital are beginning to take shape. From this, there are basic plans in place on how to design the labor rooms, as well as the single rooms within the neonatal intensive care unit.

It also gives a basic outline regarding which services might be best suited for where within the hospital.

"We are not planning for today; we are planning for years from now," Tracy Morgan, vice president of women's and children's services at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, said at the hospital board's meeting on Wednesday.

Phoebe North has 248 licensed beds, 109 of which are operational. The average daily census is 56.1, officials with the hospital say.

The Palmyra Road facility is now home to Phoebe's inpatient rehabilitation center, with the transition to that campus coinciding with the signing of the lease agreement for Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital and Phoebe North.

Dr. Steven Wolinsky, president of the medical executive committee at Phoebe, said the stakeholder meetings -- which have been serving primarily as question-and-answer sessions -- have been a positive force in moving toward a final concept.

"It's a fluid process," he said. "By the beginning of next year, most of the hard decisions will have been made."

Even though this is something that is likely a couple of years away from being fully implemented, there is a high level of excitement regarding the aspects expected to make the center unique -- including the single NICU rooms and a plan allowing for more daylight in the patient rooms.

"We are trying to capture the things to make it a family atmosphere," she said. "Childbirth is an experience we want to be one of a kind, so we wanted everyone's input."

Stakeholder meetings will continue to be held and officials are expected to go deeper into the planning phases for Phoebe North in the coming months.

Tommy Chambless, senior vice president and general counsel for Phoebe Putney Health System, noted that -- in accordance with recent open records legislation -- there has been a slight change with regards to attending the hospital's board meetings via telephone.

The law, he said, now allows board members who need to call in to participate in a meeting to do so only twice in calendar year -- and that they cannot be part of the attendance as a quorum, but they can be part of an executive session and vote in open session.

Following an hour-long closed session, Chambless also presented an amendment to the health services agreement in place with the Dougherty County Jail. The county will be making payments on a quarterly basis rather than on a monthly basis.

The amendment was approved by the board Wednesday.

The agreement, approved by the board in June, stated that Phoebe was to be paid roughly $913,000 over a one-year period for providing care to inmates. The contract was initially worth $1.55 million, but at the last minute was cut by $643,000.