Viewpoint: What's Phoebe's baby beef?

January 15, 2009

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital has once again taken a stand against health care competition, and for putting more money in its coffers.

The state recently gave Palmyra Medical Centers the okay to develop an obstetrics unit to deliver babies. Phoebe immediately appealed that ruling. They claim allowing Palmyra to deliver babies could hurt the quality of care, even at their hospital.

Dr. Patton said:  "The board has taken a well thought out position long ago on this, that dilution of the key service in this community will not offer any community benefit and may actually contribute to dilution of quality of care."

We don't understand that logic. It's common sense that competition in any business usually leads to better service. In this case it might actually help attract more and better doctors.

Phoebe leaders also claim they'll lose money they need for their neo-natal intensive care unit. There's no doubt that's a fine unit that does a great job taking care of premature and seriously ill babies, but Phoebe makes millions of dollars in profit a year. That argument doesn't hold water.

Phoebe also claims Palmyra will take all the "paying customers" and leave them with indigent patients. Palmyra promises 70% of the care offered in its obstetrics unit will be to indigent patients.

We believe health care choice is a good thing. We hope the state denies Phoebe's appeal and babies will start being delivered at more than one Albany hospital by the end of this year.