ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Several Lee County residents brought their frustrations with Dougherty County's attempts to halt construction on the Lee County Medical Center directly to Dougherty leaders on Monday.
More than fifty people, many identified as Lee County residents, listened as seven people advocated on behalf of the medical center to county commissioners. One person expressed concerns about the medical center.
Three supporters held signs reading: "We support Lee County Medical Center."
Some talked about why they believe the new medical center will help both communities.
Others explained they wanted another medical option because they had a bad experience at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital or because they have to travel a far distance for care.
One Lee County resident, who is also a nurse, and said she has worked for Phoebe, wants Dougherty commissioners to rethink their position on the Lee County Medical Center.
"I hope that they hear the people speak. And, then listen to their constituents and then certainly go against maybe their own personal opinions, but go along with the majority. Because we are a democracy," said Tracey Hodges.
Another Lee County resident, and long-time Lee County School Board member, Louis Hatcher, shared his "serious concerns" about the LCMC as a citizen. He said he is worried that it will ultimately fail in today's healthcare climate and that there hasn't been enough due diligence done.
Hatcher also shared he and his family have been "maliciously attacked" by people on social media because of his opinion. Hatcher said he has done legal business with Phoebe, along with other private and non-profit medical groups, but he was there as a citizen, and was "not beholden to anyone."
Also, during the meeting, one person who addressed the commission, Mike Meager, issued an unusual challenge to commissioners.
First, Meager asked people in attendance in favor of the LCMC to stand. Many people in the audience stood. Then, he turned to Commissioners and asked them a similar question. The commission body remained seated.
Following the presentations, District Four Commissioner Ewell Lyle said he wants the Certificate of Need process done correctly.
Lyle also pointed out that Dougherty County has tried to cooperate with Lee County throughout the process, even making a formal offer to share the costs of a full impact study.
"You can't just build a hospital and not take into consideration the impact it is going to have on existing hospitals. That is what Dougherty County has been supporting through this whole process," said Lyle.
In response to our request for a statement, a spokesperson for Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital responded in an email, writing that the hospital had no comment about the Lee County Medical Center but did write: