Lee Co. leaders ask DoCo commissioners for meeting on proposed h - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Lee Co. leaders ask DoCo commissioners for meeting on proposed hospital

Lee County commissioners asked for a sit down meeting with Dougherty County leaders (Source: WALB) Lee County commissioners asked for a sit down meeting with Dougherty County leaders (Source: WALB)
Georgia's Department of Health is deciding whether to give the okay for the hospital to be built (Source: WALB) Georgia's Department of Health is deciding whether to give the okay for the hospital to be built (Source: WALB)
The entrance to the former Grand island Golf Club (Source: WALB) The entrance to the former Grand island Golf Club (Source: WALB)
Georgia Alliance for Community Hospitals President Monty Veazey (Source: WALB) Georgia Alliance for Community Hospitals President Monty Veazey (Source: WALB)
Lee Co. Commissioner Rick Muggridge (Source: WALB) Lee Co. Commissioner Rick Muggridge (Source: WALB)
LEE CO., GA (WALB) -

Lee County commissioners asked for a sit down meeting with Dougherty County leaders on Tuesday night.

This after, the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals president told Dougherty County commissioners that the proposed 60-bed hospital would hurt several hospitals in Southwest Georgia - not only Phoebe. 

"It appeared that the lobbyist really tried to pit one county against the other," remarked Commissioner Billy Mathis.

Mathis firmly stated the proposed Lee County hospital isn't a Lee versus Dougherty issue.

Mathis along with Commissioner Rick Muggridge both agreed that main issue is giving residents a choice in healthcare. 

"The most despicable of the whole deal was that Mr. Veazey - a paid lobbyist basically asked the Dougherty County commission, the Dougherty County people to go against the Lee County," Muggridge explained. 

Muggridge said he's undoing years of work to make both communities one.

He also said, "what's good for Lee, is good for Dougherty. And what's good for Dougherty is good for Lee."

The fiasco stemmed from Georgia Alliance for Community Hospitals President Monty Veazey, a leader for a not-for-profit coalition, spoke to Dougherty County commissioners about how the proposed hospital in Lee County would negatively affect several hospitals in the region.

Veazey said the impact on Phoebe could be a loss of between $30 to $40 million annually, that's if all of the paying Lee County patients choose the new Lee County hospital.

"I also thought it was bizarre that a paid lobbyist that works on behalf of Phoebe would ask the Dougherty County commission to speak on a CON application for Lee County," Muggridge remarked, one he believed is a direct violation of an FTC ruling that states the hospital should not get involved with any CON applications.

He also found it irregular that Veazey said he was invited to the meeting by a state senator and county attorney, something that hasn't happened during his nine-year tenure as a county commissioner.  

"We'll get a CON, and we'll build a hospital. Lee County Southwest Georgia deserves a choice. It's time for the monopoly to end," Muggridge said,

To get both sides, Lee County commissioners extended an invitation to Dougherty County commissioners to discuss the hospital in greater detail.

Muggridge also asked residents to write the Community Health Director supporting the CON application.

Right now, Georgia's Department of Health is deciding whether to give the okay for the hospital to be built.

Phoebe Putney hospital spokesperson sent over the following statement: 

Phoebe takes our consent order with the FTC very seriously, and we have been extremely careful not to violate that agreement. Phoebe was not requested by the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals to provide any input into what should be presented to the Dougherty County Commission, nor did we offer any suggestion or opinion. We learned the content of the presentation when it was made and not before. We remain confident that the Georgia Department of Community Health objectively and fairly evaluates all Certificate of Need applications," Dawn Benson, Phoebe General Counsel remarked.

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