Hospital Authority of Albany-Dougherty County briefed on financials, storm recovery

From left, Jeff Flowers, senior vice president of operations for Phoebe Putney Health System, listens as Brian Church, chief financial officer for the health system, provides a financial update to the Hospital Authority of Albany-Dougherty County on Thursday. (Staff Photo: Jennifer Parks)

ALBANY — The Hospital Authority of Albany-Dougherty County was given a review on Thursday of where the authority, as well as Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, stands financially and in regards to Phoebe’s recovery from January storms.

Also during the budget overview, the proposed Lee County hospital emerged as a topic of discussion.

Brian Church, chief financial officer for Phoebe Putney Health System, gave a review of the Fiscal Year 2016 audited financials that had been prepared by CPA firm Draffin and Tucker and presented initially at the hospital’s Board of Directors meeting in December.

During the presentation, Phoebe CEO Joel Wernick asked Church about the amount of charity care offered to citizens in Lee County during the fiscal year. The CFO said the amount was $9 million. Immediately after that response, Wernick made note of the interest of Lee County officials to ensure the construction of a 50-bed, $50 million hospital at the former Grand Island Golf Course.

“If that is the case, and the plan is to step forward and provide that care, then we could spend that $9 million on other things,” the CEO said.

The authority meeting on Thursday was the first since the Jan. 2 and Jan. 22 storms that tore through the community, so its members received an update similar to what was offered at the most recent hospital board meeting on Feb. 1.

The storms collectively impacted 400 Phoebe employees, including several families who lost everything they owned — some of whom took advantage of space at Phoebe North for meals and a place to sleep.

At the same time, assessment began on the buildings surrounding Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital that were damaged in the Jan. 2 event.

Jeff Flowers, senior vice president of operations for the health system, said assessments were still continuing with insurance representatives, but that it is likely some structures will be a total loss.

“We have eight properties we are looking at the possibility of being considered a total loss,” he said. “Likely, it will be just two or three (that are declared total losses).”

Phoebe North has also served as a work space for 100 employees who had been working out of structures that remain damaged.

“They will likely be there for several months as we work through this,” Flowers said.

The indication on Thursday was that, given the likely loss of some other Phoebe buildings, the storm may have an impact on future plans for the system’s Palmyra Road facility.

Highlights of the hospital’s financials included $618 million in total assets, $526 million in expenses, $91 million in bad debt, $59 million in uncompensated care and an overall community benefit report of $266 million.

Church also highlighted the decision of Moody’s Investors Service to reaffirm its A1 bond status.

Church further offered a financial outlook for the authority similar to what was presented at its November meeting, which showed the body has $101,000 in cash in its account, slightly above the required $100,000 amount.

“Whenever there is less than $100,000, I consult with the chair of the authority and the authority attorney (for permission to) move money into the account,” he said.

The authority also opted to keep its current officers. This means that Dr. Chuck Lingle, Fred Ghiglieri, Joel Callins and Dr. Michael Laslie will retain the positions of chair, vice chair, secretary/treasurer and assistant secretary/treasurer, respectively.

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Staff Writer

I'm a 2007 graduate of Georgia Southern University, and I've been a reporter for The Albany Herald since 2008. I cover news related to health care, Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany, SOWEGA Council on Aging and other areas as assigned.

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