Dougherty Co. commission votes to oppose Lee Co. hospital - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Dougherty Co. commission votes to oppose Lee Co. hospital

(Source: WALB) (Source: WALB)
The proposed Lee Co. Hospital (Source: Freese Johnson) The proposed Lee Co. Hospital (Source: Freese Johnson)
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

The Dougherty County Commission has just voted 5 to 2 to send a letter to the state Department of Community Health, opposing the granting of a certificate of need for the proposed Lee County hospital.

But the commission also wants the Lee County Commission to join in gathering more information about the proposed medical center's impact.

The decision was made in a special called meeting Wednesday.

All the commissioners voted to send the letter to the state, except District 2 Commissioner John Hayes, and District 1 Commissioner Lamar Hudgins, who both voted against.

Commissioners from Dougherty County have expressed concerns over the proposed Lee County hospital, but Lee County commissioners responded that the hospital would be a success.

"Lee County has been working on this for the past year, and Dougherty County was not a part of that process," said Dougherty County Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas. 

He said the commission took an important step in its meeting Wednesday afternoon.

"We preserved its right to submit comments relating to whether this hospital will be good for this community," said Cohilas.

The approved resolution is in three parts:

  • Part one - To send a letter to the Georgia Department of Community Health officially opposing the Lee County Medical Center's Certificate of Need application.
  • Part two - Commission a study on the potential impact of the proposed hospital.
  • Part three - Ask the Department of Community Health to formally request information from Phoebe administrators about the potential impact of the proposed hospital.

"Dougherty County doesn't decide whether or not Lee County gets a hospital. The only entity that decides that is the Georgia Department of Community Health," said Cohilas.

However, the commission also approved to formally request the Lee County Commission to do a joint study on how the proposed hospital will affect Southwest Georgia.

"We offered to split the cost with them, and we want them to accept our offer," said Cohilas.

If the Lee County Commission does not want to participate, Cohilas said the Dougherty County Commission will move forward with a study.

Two Lee County Commissioners also attended the meeting, including Billy Mathis.

"Disappointing, and unprecedented. Unprecedented that another county would object to something that we're doing. We've never done that to Dougherty County," said Mathis.

Mathis said he believes the vote Wednesday has one negative effect.

"The only thing that I see being accomplished by the vote of the Dougherty County Commission today in opposing our Certificate of Need is to drive a wedge between two county governments," said Mathis.

The letter from Commissioner Cohilas to the Lee County Commission states Lee County Commission has until 10 a.m. Monday to decide whether to do a joint study.

Mathis said the Lee County Commission does not have a meeting until next Tuesday - after that deadline.

It was announced in June of 2016 that the site of the Grand Island Golf Club would be transformed into a hospital.

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