Despite economy, Phoebe plans to grow - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Despite economy, Phoebe plans to grow

By Cade Fowler - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) – For the county's largest employer to work, Phoebe Putney CEO Joel Wernick says it takes a team effort.

"It starts with our board and you take a committed medical staff of 300 or more physicians and mix in 3,500 dedicated Phoebe family members and that's how you do what we do," says Wernick.

Beginning with 1,500 employees in 1988, the states biggest hospital trade organization generated more than $800 million into the community in 2007.

Facing a down economy three years later, Wernick says Phoebe's goal remains the same.

"One of the specific charges our organization has is to grow. And that growth is coming as a result of making services more convenient to the citizens of southwest Georgia so they don't have to leave the region."

Wernick says deep Medicaid cuts could stunt that growth. He hopes lawmakers find a way to avoid those cuts.

"What the General Assembly does when it comes to medicaid resources are extremely important to the citizens of southwest Georgia and to Phoebe who provides a significant amount of services to medicaid recipients," says Wernick.

In a time when layoffs are frequent in many industries, Wernick says Phoebe is a taking a conservative approach when it comes to spending to avoid job cuts.

"We're constantly looking for ways that we can reduce costs without impacting people. On the other hand, when we have a voluntary turnover we look very closely at if that position should be replaced,"

Wernick admits the hospital's growth hasn't always attracted fanfare, but says it will continue to expand.  

The report released by the Georgia Hospital Association also showed that Phoebe provided $36 million in uncompensated care in 2007.


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