Officials host conference call on proposed Lee Co. Medical Center

LEE CO., GA (WALB) - We're learning more about the proposed Lee County Medical Center.

WALB News 10 reviewed a 300+ page document with questions about the Certificate of Need asked during a conference call between the Georgia Department of Community Health and the attorney for the proposed hospital on September 15.

One question and response explained a bulk of why Lee County officials feel the hospital is needed: how will the proposed medical center improve South Georgians health care options and is the proposed hospital too close to Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital?

That response had several statistics and patient and physician complaints explaining why they were dissatisfied with the current medical providers.

In the 300+ page document, the proposed Lee County Medical Center officials spell out why the hospital is needed in Southwest Georgia.

The document was a response to several questions that came up during the 60-day conference call between Georgia Department of Community Health and hospital officials.

One of the questions focuses on the issues with access to care. Twenty pages point at the lack of choice of care.

A graph in the document shows the number of physicians by specialty on Phoebe's Medical Staff, with more than half of the physicians in the market employed by Phoebe.

And there's no other choice for 14 of those specialties.

Following that graph is pages of letters from patients and physicians.

One quote said a "disturbing trend in health care in Southwest Georgia has been not only a monopoly but a growing monopoly of physician care."

Hospitals officials also outline the quality of care.

CMS Compare reports Phoebe has a score of 3 stars out of 5.

Timeliness of emergency room care showed that the average time for patients who came with broken bones had to wait 90 minutes, compared to the state average of 56 minutes.

The most startling statistic was Southwest Georgia is among the most expensive insurance markets in the US according to Kaiser Health News.

The area is reportedly the second most expensive region in the country, and it's occurring in counties with low average household incomes and high unemployment.

And officials with the proposed hospital said all of these issues exist even though Phoebe is about 4.7 miles from the proposed hospital.

There are several other questions/responses in the document. WALB News 10 plans to dive into those in the coming days.

You can read both sections of the entire 300+ page document below.

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