Lee Co. officials respond to open records request for new hospit - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Lee Co. officials respond to open records request for new hospital

The Vice-Chairman of the Lee County Commission says the county is complying with a lengthy open records request about a proposed new medical center. (Source: WALB) The Vice-Chairman of the Lee County Commission says the county is complying with a lengthy open records request about a proposed new medical center. (Source: WALB)
Vice-Chairman Billy Mathis says anyone is welcome to view public information related to the partnership. (Source: WALB) Vice-Chairman Billy Mathis says anyone is welcome to view public information related to the partnership. (Source: WALB)
LEE CO., GA (WALB) -

The Vice-Chairman of the Lee County Commission says the county is complying with a lengthy open records request about a proposed new medical center.

The request was made by a Tennessee healthcare attorney, who states in the letter that he is acting as an individual.

It asks for all documentation without limitation, including emails, from all elected officials and government employees about the Lee County Medical Center.

MedEquities Reality Trust, the real estate investment company behind the project, is planning on building a 130-million dollar, 60-bed, short-stay hospital at Grand Island, a location that runs along the Lee and Dougherty line.

Vice-Chairman Billy Mathis says anyone is welcome to view public information related to the partnership.

"We would have just given it to them. I mean there wasn't really a reason, it's none of my business, but to go to the expense of hiring folks to get this information, a simple phone call would have gotten them this information," said Mathis.

State law allows Lee County to charge a nominal fee for staff time collecting the records.

The county's co-manager Mike Sistrunk told us they are working to collect all of the information.

Mathis told WALB the health care organization that will occupy the facility has not been finalized, but will be named "soon".

Nashville, Tennessee attorney Brant Phillips confirms Lee County is cooperating with substantial open records request over a proposed new hospital. 

Phillips responded Friday afternoon to questions about a request he made asking Lee County officials to provide all documentation related to the business of a proposed 130-million dollar hospital. 

"At the present time, we are working cooperatively with Lee County to obtain the requested records," Phillips said. "Lee County has indicated that it will provide the requested records within the coming week."

In the letter, Phillips states he is acting as an individual. We did ask Phoebe in-house counsel if they had any knowledge of the request, but they didn't want to make a comment. 

Earlier this week, Phoebe's board heard an analysis of how the for-profit hospital, backed by a private real estate trust, will impact their health system. 

Commissioned by Phoebe, it showed a potential financial loss of $250 million dollars by year five after a Lee hospital opens. 

A hospital spokesperson said that Phoebe will have to do a complete level of service review for "sustainability" in light of the financial loss. 

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