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Hospital Authority has failed in its duties

Guest Columnist

Hope Campbell

Hope Campbell

So, you know that state law required our Hospital Authority to hold a public hearing last spring before awarding the management contract for Palmyra. (That very hospital our authority bought for $195 million out of their operating funds of, well, zero.) But did you know that our authority advertised the hearing exactly one time? Do you think that they could possibly have wanted to limit attendance at the hearing? Our authority? Surely not!

Even if you didn't attend, you must have heard, the turnout was huge! There was overwhelming opposition to the proposed plan to award Phoebe Putney a 40-year lease for the Palmyra facility for the amazing sum of $1 per year. Those few who did speak out in favor of the lease were in some way tied to Phoebe, hardly a resounding endorsement. You would probably think that the members of the authority would actually consider whether such a merger was in the best interests of our community.

Person after person arose to point out very compelling reasons to find a different lessor. How could it not matter that Phoebe has engaged in anticompetitive practices for so many years with impunity? How could it not matter that the FTC had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on the legality of the Phoebe-Palmyra debacle? What was the rush to sign a lease? Shouldn't we at least wait until the Supreme Court decided whether or not to hear the case?

What about this one? Phoebe Putney, the one that offers "world-class medicine with a hometown commitment," has a less-than-exemplary record when it comes to quality of care. Or this one? It actually costs more than average to avail yourself of the less than average care provided by Phoebe.

Isn't it reasonable to think a hospital that has sought to squelch competition has an agenda that isn't in the best interest of the community?

As I stated earlier, the only Phoebe proponents who attended the hearing were in some way tied to Phoebe. And I do not mean that they were successfully treated at Phoebe. There were no satisfied consumers there, not a single one. There were Phoebe doctors, sons of those doctors, board members and employees. (All of the pro-Phoebe spokesmen were in the Phoebe pocket, so to speak.) Are we so ignorant in their estimation that they thought we would believe their support was spontaneous? And did they think for a minute that their motivation was not transparent?

If you attended the hearing, as the proceedings evolved you were probably one of many who noted with something approaching despair that even though many potentially negative outcomes to the Phoebe-Palmyra merger were outlined, every member of our Hospital Authority sat with bored far-away looks and not so much as a pretense of interest in the seriousness of the implications for the citizens whose interests they should represent. And when they quickly voted unanimously to proceed with the Phoebe lease at the earliest possible date, you surely realized that the hearing was a perfunctory exercise.

Why did they not even consider the possibility that another hospital management company might entertain the idea of a 40-year lease at $1 per year?

Then, this spring, when the Supreme Court of the United States of America decided unanimously against Phoebe, you must have thought our Hospital Authority would finally take its responsibility seriously and pursue courses of action other than granting an unbid contract to Phoebe.

Well, my friend, you were wrong. Our Hospital Authority has failed us, as they have sat indifferent to the fact that Phoebe has sought to circumvent the Supreme Court by changing Georgia law to allow some, but not all, county hospital authorities to enter into a monopolistic leasing agreement with a hospital management company. Do you see that the proposed law was tailor-made to fit the Phoebe situation? How could our authority sit back and allow Phoebe Putney to do that? The members of our Hospital Authority apparently either misunderstand their job or they don't care that Phoebe, in its arrogance, has decided to thumb its collective nose at the FTC, the U.S. Supreme Court and the citizens of our community who will be so adversely affected by their takeover of Palmyra.

Perhaps those on the authority with integrity should take this opportunity to resign. As to the others, we should recall every one of them. We should require our County Commission, which is complacent in this mess, to install a new authority that is independent of Phoebe's powerful influence, who understands the implications of selling out our interests to Phoebe Putney and who will oversee the proper delivery of health care at a reasonable price to our citizens.

Hope Campbell, an Albany native, was educated and has taught in Albany's public school system. As the owner of H. Campbell & Associates, a local interior design firm, she has been an employer in our community for many years. Mrs. Campbell lives in Albany with her husband, Bruce.

Comments

Trustbuster 10 months, 3 weeks ago

I agree with you. The authority has exceeded its authority. Hopefully the courts will in favor of the FTC.

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Abytaxpayer 10 months, 3 weeks ago

How in the world did this Guest Columnist slip past the monitors? Did she not read the Herald's Editorial? She and her kind are what is holding Albany back they are a hindrance to economic development in the metro Albany area. Too many people asking questions and questioning authority much less the Hospital Authority will scare business owners away from Albany.

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Sister_Ruby_Two 10 months, 3 weeks ago

This is a brave lady who will obviously not be doing any paid services for PPMH in the near future. I agree with her whole heartedly.

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southwestga 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Of course The Hospital Authority is corrupt! Any members with integrity should resign before the Commission replaces them. Maybe not happening this week?! Herald, this is another example of an article that many people can't comment on from their Facebook page. Phoebe thumbs their nose at The Supreme Court, you don't think they would punish the little people?

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WeAreThey 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Thank you, Ms. Campbell, for speaking the truth that has so egregiously been ignored - or to your point - flagrantly disregarded. I, like you, wonder when the good gentlemen of the Hospital Authority, and the Phoebe Health System board, will right their moral compasses.

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rightasrain 10 months, 3 weeks ago

One may also "thank" Ed Rynders for his help in getting this "new" Georgia law passed. As was stated in the Herald last year when GA passed this law, Rynders receives mucho denero from Phoebe and other "medical related" companies. Rynders is like Obama and must go.

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dingleberry 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Good job and very true. Surprised the Herald printed it since it disagrees with what was written by them earlier. When the only entity willing to raise its hackles against the all powerful Oz is the FTC, it is obvious the power and influence of Phoebe has overwhelmed all others. Locally and within the state, politicians and the pathetic Hospital Authority seem to quake at the possibility of incurring its wrath and vindictiveness.

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Sister_Ruby_Two 10 months, 3 weeks ago

All members of the Hospital Authority should be sent to jail for a year or two.

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factoidredux 10 months, 3 weeks ago

We need more people like Ms Campbell to speak out and fight the powerful Phoebe spin that so dominates our community leaders and media

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dancyg54 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Abytaxpayer, how can you suggest that it is improper to ask questions? That will not keep businesses from coming to Albany, but an attitude like yours will. Ms. Campbell was direct and to the point and said things that have needed to be said for a long time.

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LikeItIs 10 months, 3 weeks ago

I believe Abytaxpayer was being sarcastic. He/She is obviously completely frustrated with the situation, as am I and you also appear to be.

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Abytaxpayer 10 months, 3 weeks ago

dancy I apologize to you and the others who did not catch it the first time. I wrote that as sarcasm. I had to write it that way to sneak it past the monitors. They have been screening and rejecting my commits that don't fit with their narratives. I am one of those that has had business dealing with P and the things they did and said not from a "Town Home Committed" company but more like Chicago Mafia.

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RedEric 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Whew! You had me worried. I thought you were getting ready for the Facebook style commenting. I like you, I like me, I like those people, I like to puke.

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Abytaxpayer 10 months, 3 weeks ago

LOL RED no I believe in free speech and I believe that gives everyone the RIGHT to speak their mind regardless of whether I agree with them or not. People who don't want a free exchange of thoughts are usually afraid of someone exposing the truth. If the light scares some people they do all they can to block that light...Right Roger?

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BettyBowTie 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Well said Hope Campbell. We may as well change the name of this town to Phoebegate or maybe Wernickville. I wonder how long my comment will stay up here. My name is Betty Rehberg. My family know more than we want to know about both.

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zalephoto 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Well stated Hope! Corporations who forget their purpose are always kept in check by an informed and energized public. I hope this all leads to a correction in the errors of their ways. Stay the course and follow the money.

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Albanite 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Does anyone actually believe that the merger will be undone? Obviously that isn't possible and since its a civil administrative issue, no one will go to jail either. What exactly do those who oppose the merger expect to happen? What specifically do they want to happen if the FTC prevails?

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FryarTuk 10 months, 2 weeks ago

ABYnite: What specifically do they want to happen if the FTC prevails?

Here's what should be negotiated: 1. remove the eunuchs on the hospital authority. 2. a new and completely independent hospital authority be installed. 3. remove the current hospital/system administration, lock, stock and barrel. 4. separate the 2 hospitals with independent administrations under the aegis of the authority. 5. PPH Systems' outpatient and management services function much like other outpatient services except a management under the AH control. 6. Take control of all money and resources from the existing system and have a forensic audit to clear every one's intention. This could be done and it would be good for Albany. The DoCoComm and AH boards would have to have some brass and not just be looking for something in their pockets.

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Albanite 10 months ago

None of that will happen. The most that can happen is for Phoebe to be ordered out of the old Palmyra building and to pay some stiff fine. Meanwhile the Palmyra building will sit unused. I don't disagree about the lack of adequate patient care, nor about the fraudulent billing practices, nor about the high cost and lack of availability of care. However, as a practical matter, the toothpaste is out of the tube and it ain't going back in.

Further, I challenge anyone to find a Phoebe physician or senior administrator who doesn't take in between $300,000 and $3 million a year. They simply have the money and the clout to do anything they want to this community... except provide affordable care.

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DoctorDorite 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Palmyra definetly needs taking over by "someone", have you been in there lately ? everything is old, worn, dull, dingy, with a vintage 60's look about it. Not saying it should be Phoebe but it sure could stand a revamping from someone. I will say Phoebe and staff treated me well last year during my 2 week visit but agree they could really do better on their pricing which is harming industrial growth in the area.

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FryarTuk 10 months, 2 weeks ago

I like Hope Campbell but I will stick my hand up to support Phoebe Putney Hospital services and staff. I'm sure there are legitimate complaints but I can offer many, many legitimate testimonies for their fine services.

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stc1993 9 months, 1 week ago

The part that gets me is they are suppose to be a "non profit" yet they have millions & millions in the Cayman Islands. They own their own malpractice insurance company again in the Cayman Island a place known for its shady banking practices. The list goes on, I don't know how they get away with it. They have no accountability since the H.A. & Co. Comm. is in thier pocket.

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