Digging Deeper: Phoebe Putney, Palmyra deal on hold again - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Digging Deeper: Phoebe Putney, Palmyra deal on hold again

Uncertainty over Phoebe Putney's proposed buyout of Palmyra Medical Center is putting a strain on Palmyra.

The hospital has lost dozens of employees over the past few months and currently does not have a CEO.

But Palmyra leaders say they continue to serve their patients well.

The Georgia Court of Appeals ruling today that Palmyra could go forward with their Certificate of Need to offer maternity service came a little too late. Hospital officials say it may have little consequence now going forward, but they hope to have a deal in place soon before they lose any more employees.

Documents HCA filed in court show they've had a hard time keeping employees since it was announced Phoebe would purchase the hospital. They asked the court not to delay the sale with another appeal, but Phoebe officials are confident the deal will move forward as soon as the appeal is complete.

"We have an asset purchase agreement in place and I think we both intend to honor that purchase agreement," said Joe Austin, PPMH Chief Operating Officer.

HCA is also confident the sale will move forward despite delays and a loss of staff. They say throughout this period Palmyra has consistently remained in the top 10 percent for patient satisfaction among all HCA Hospitals. They claim despite what's said in court documents they're continued to hire new employees and is sufficiently staffed. The hospital lost it's CEO, CFO, head of intensive care, head of pediatrics, the head of the pharmacy department and its only neurosurgeon while the FTC continues to argue the deal between Phoebe and HCA should be subject to antitrust review.

"I think HCA is ready to consummate the transaction as soon as we complete the process in the court system," said Austin.

The FTC isn't convinced a delay of the deal is a hardship for the hospital, and claim HCA built in a way to profit from the deal even if the deal breaks up they walk away with 35 million dollars. Some in the community hope the FTC will continue to push for the courts to review this deal, while others feel it should be allowed to move forward.

"Women having children I think they should have a choice of which hospital they have a child at, they shouldn't be forced to pick one particular hospital," said Lou Chavers, a concerned citizen.

"They should buy it if they can afford to, it's individual choice," said Barbara Paschal, a concerned citizen.

Thursday Phoebe officials urged the FTC to put their September hearing to review the deal on hold until the 11th circuit court of appeals can rule.

Thursday, Phoebe officials said it's another wait and see game, as to when this deal might go forward.

Phoebe officials tell us they're ready to move forward with the buyout as soon as possible.

They hope a hearing before the 11th circuit court of appeals will be set up in the next month.

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