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Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, Hospital Authority of Albany-Dougherty County appeal Georgia Department of Community Health letter

Hospital officials to appeal determination letter responding to request from North Albany Medical Center

Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital and the Hospital Authority of Albany-Dougherty County are appealing a determination from the Georgia Department of Community Health that concluded a Certificate of Need would not be necessary in the event a divestiture is ordered on the former Palmyra Medical Center (Albany Herald file photo)

Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital and the Hospital Authority of Albany-Dougherty County are appealing a determination from the Georgia Department of Community Health that concluded a Certificate of Need would not be necessary in the event a divestiture is ordered on the former Palmyra Medical Center (Albany Herald file photo)

ALBANY — Officials with Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital announced on Thursday that they and the Hospital Authority of Albany-Dougherty County have appealed a determination of the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH), which concluded a Certificate of Need would not be necessary in the event there should be a divestiture ordered involving the former Palmyra Medical Center.

The appeal by Phoebe and the Hospital Authority requests an administrative appeal, which includes a full evidentiary hearing to contest the determination. The appeal comes in response to a June 3 DCH determination on a letter filed on March 12 by North Albany Medical Center LLC (NAMC) in Tennessee. In the letter NAMC officials presented a proposal regarding a hypothetical purchase or lease of what is now known as Phoebe North Campus.

In filing the appeal, a Phoebe spokesperson said, “We strongly believe DCH’s determination was incorrect on the facts and the law, and contrary to the plain statutory language, DCH’s own rules and testimony, and prior Georgia Supreme Court decisions. Being forced to expend precious and limited community assets on this matter, rather than on our mission to provide patient care to all who need it, is troubling, but we have no alternative. We are resolute on the correctness of our legal position and on the rightness of Phoebe’s plan for the future well being of this community. Meanwhile, we will continue to do that which we do best: Look after the people of Southwest Georgia who need care.”

Victor Moldovan, the attorney representing NAMC, upon being informed of the appeal Thursday, stated, “DCH was correct in its determination, and I have no doubt it will be upheld.”

The Authority purchased the former private hospital from Hospital Corporation of America for $195 million and contracted with Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital Inc. to operate it. The Federal Trade Commission has been contesting the purchase, and the Authority, the FTC and Phoebe had reached an agreement last August that would allow the Authority to keep Phoebe North and have it operated by Phoebe.

The FTC has not finalized that agreement. Officials from the agency have said the response to NAMC might impact its final proposed agreement.

An order signed by U.S. District Court Judge Louis Sands was filed June 13 stating that the parties involved now have until July 14 to file the necessary dismissal documents for an order for preliminary injunction against the Hospital Authority and Phoebe Putney Health System in regard to the acquisition of the former Palmyra, following review of the FTC’s unopposed motion to extend the deadline for filing the motion to dismiss.

A spokeswoman from DCH said the agency would have no further comment beyond its initial letter.

A spokesman from the FTC said on Thursday that the agency would have no comment on the matter.