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      Albany surgeon wary of Phoebe/Palmyra buyout

      More fallout from Phoebe Putney's acquisition of Palmyra Medical Center . .

      An Albany physician that has worked for both hospitals is speaking out on what the acquisition means for Southwest Georgia " and the picture he paints is not a pretty one.

      "It TMs not a good thing if you have only one source of gasoline," said Dr. John Bagnato of Palmyra Surgical. "It TMs not a good thing if you have only one source of groceries. And the same applies to healthcare."

      Bagnato has practiced healthcare in Southwest Georgia for over a decade.

      He doesn TMt mince words when it comes to what he sees as Phoebe TMs goal to corner the market on Southwest Georgia Healthcare.

      "Anytime they go to buy something, they TMre overpaying for it," said Bagnato. "There TMs gotta be a reason for it. One big bonus they get is no more competition."

      Bagnato warns that once Palmyra Medical officially becomes Phoebe North, healthcare prices will rise and the quality of services will diminish.

      He also admits having a tumultuous past with Phoebe Hospital.

      "I TMve been critical of their business practices both as it relates to pricing, to hoarding money and wealth as well as treatment of the uninsured," said Bagnato. "It TMs a not-for-profit that doesn TMt operate as a non-profit at all."

      Differences with Phoebe administrators prompted Bagnato and a colleague to begin distributing what became known as the Phoebe Factoids in 2003 " faxes sent anonymously to other hospitals, doctors, and media outlets detailing the organization TMs financial holdings, tax returns, and billing practices.

      The controversy culminated in criminal charges against Bagnato " which were later dismissed.

      Bagnato says he TMs also concerned about what effect a healthcare monopoly could have on private practitioners. If any one organization is in a position to dictate where and how physicians can do business, local health care professionals may consider closing their doors.

      "I don TMt know what I TMm gonna do yet but I doubt that Phoebe will allow me to continue practicing at Palmyra," said Bagnato.