'Factoids' creator says he 'loves Phoebe'; wants admin change - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

'Factoids' creator says he 'loves Phoebe'; wants admin change

The Phoebe factoids Facebook page The Phoebe factoids Facebook page
Will Geer (Source: WALB) Will Geer (Source: WALB)
Comm. Chair Chris Cohilas (Soure: WALB) Comm. Chair Chris Cohilas (Soure: WALB)
Attendance was strong for the commission meeting (Source: WALB) Attendance was strong for the commission meeting (Source: WALB)

A concerned Albany native claims competition against Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital would help area health care.

A creator of Phoebe Factoids, a Facebook page used to discuss concerns about the hospital was one of several people who spoke in front of Dougherty County commissioners Monday morning. The presentation lasting nearly two hours.

Will Geer primarily resides in Johns Creek, Georgia, but is a native of Albany, and owns a CPA firm over on Third Avenue. He says he has family, friends, and employees who live in the area, and he wants to see better health care.

"I love Phoebe. I want to change the administration," Geer said. "I know there are people who love Phoebe. I love Phoebe. I want to love a better Phoebe and support a better Phoebe." 

Geer says his purpose for attending today's Dougherty County Commission meeting was primarily in response to Monty Veazy, the CEO of the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals, who spoke in front of commissioners last week.

Veazey warned commissioners that a Lee County hospital would have a negative impact on several area hospitals-- including Phoebe.

"I knew the community needed to see a different side of the story," Geer said.

Geer says he's a strong supporter of competition and says it's needed. He calls Phoebe a 'monopoly' when it comes to this area's health care.

"If the Lee County Hospital does come in here, there are a lot of things that are not very good, and it's going to flush those things out."

Dougherty County Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas says today's meeting was an excellent illustration of civil discourse.

"We have so many issues that intersect here with people who have had good experiences with Phoebe, and people who have had bad experiences with Phoebe," said Cohilas.

A number of those bad experiences have been posted on the Phoebe Factoids. Geer is one of the creators of the page. He says he uses it to convey his research of the hospital, sometimes including posts about area leaders like the Dougherty County Commission Chairman.

"If it was something that was offensive, I would gladly look the chairman in the eye and tell him sorry that it offended him. But there was never anything meant to be personal," Geer said.

"It's about one of the most emotional subjects that people can talk about," said Cohilas. "Because when you talk about health care, you're talking about your babies, children, grandchildren, and elderly. It's a tough issue.

Cohilas says his commissioners will now need to decide how they're going to analyze the different information.

Geer says he has put in a request to speak to Phoebe's CEO to discuss his concerns, but has yet to have that opportunity.

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

Phoebe officials responded with the following statement to Monday's presentation to the Dougherty County Commission:

Any implication that Phoebe has violated our consent order with the Federal Trade Commission is flatly false.  We take our responsibility very seriously and have done nothing to join the discourse about the Certificate of Need Application for the proposed hospital in Lee County.

We appreciate that citizens are taking an active interest in healthcare in our region, but many of the statements made during today’s Dougherty County Commission meeting show a complete lack of understanding of the healthcare system and include blatantly inaccurate statements about Phoebe.

Phoebe is not a “struggling” health system.  Our volunteer board members and senior leaders have worked extremely hard to maintain financial stability and a superior bond rating at a time of great uncertainty and volatility in healthcare that has forced the closure or acquisition of numerous other hospitals in Georgia.

Inpatient admissions and average lengths of stay in hospitals around the country are decreasing, as they should be.  Phoebe’s numbers are an indication of our commitment to improving access to primary care and helping citizens avoid hospitalization when possible, not an indication that patients are seeking hospital care outside our region.

Citizens of our region should be offended that these critics think so little of our elected leaders and the Hospital Authority that they would accuse of them of being “shills” for any business and would misrepresent arguments of the FTC as “court rulings.”

Phoebe does not have a monopoly on healthcare delivery in southwest Georgia.  While no one competes for the uninsured patients or those on Medicaid that Phoebe treats every day, we certainly compete with many surgery centers and independent physicians for the privilege of meeting the healthcare needs of southwest Georgians.  While receiving no taxpayer support from Dougherty County or any other county, we continue to serve a population where the percentage of at-risk individuals is great and the determination of the region's safety net hospital system is vital.

Phoebe remains committed to reinvesting our revenue into technology, equipment, services and personnel to help us develop new and better ways to serve of our region in our second century of service to the people in southwest Georgia.  The Phoebe Family of hardworking health professionals are here to assure our fellow citizens will be cared for in their time of need, and that family does not deserve the scorn of a misguided few.

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