Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital's CEO Joel Wernick revealed Friday evening at a press conference that the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of allowing Phoebe to continue it's purchase of Palmyra Medical Center.
Tom Sullivan, a senior vice president at Phoebe has been named the interim CEO of Palmyra. The Albany - Dougherty Hospital Authority will be the legal operating board.
Wernick expects this deal to close entirely within the next two weeks. When asked about the employees at Palmyra Wernick says the process to bring Palmyra employees onboard with benefits and payroll will begin immediately and plans have been in place for months. Operations teams have been working on plans for months in anticipation on this transition. Wernick says that Palmyra's top human resources person now works at Phoebe and it will help ease the transition.
Fox 31 asked Wernick how he would respond to members of the community who say now that Phoebe's purchasing Palmyra will mean that Southwest Georgia will have a healthcare monopoly. Here is the response: "There are some people that we may never convince. If you go to many communities in this country, often times there only is one hospital. When you look at competition, there has been a lot of the growth at Phoebe Putney and remember we've gone from 1500 employees to almost 5,000 over the last 20 years. That's happened because of the choices people have made in the region to come to Albany and to Phoebe Putney opposed to going to Atlanta, Macon, or Tallahassee. So in many ways people are choosing. Are there people who always want to pick between Coca-Cola and Pepsi? Absolutely ! And we understand that's very much part of the 'American Way' and I guess what will energize us is to convince those doubting Thomas' that this is a good decision and somehow their criticism energizes us to want to prove them wrong."
In December 2010 Phoebe first announced their plans to purchase Palmyra for $195 million dollars. Wernick says when all is said and done Palmyra will still likely be renamed "Phoebe North" an operate as a not-for-profit hospital.