Citizen files civil suit against Phoebe-Palmyra merger

Dr. Corleen Thompson, an epidemiologist and biostatistician, says having a hospital monopoly will affect health care costs and business growth / Sarah Bleau

2nd Update Tues, Nov 15

Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital has released a response:

Corleen Thompson's lawsuit is absurd, baseless, frivolous and brought in bad faith. We are confident the matter will be summarily dismissed by the Court. The consolidation with Palmyra Medical Center is a logical transaction between a willing seller and buyer and prepares this region for new healthcare reform regulations and laws that demand higher degrees of collaboration and consolidation among medical providers. The Hospital Authority has exercised prudent stewardship of the community's medical resources, and there is simply no basis in law or fact for the litigation.

Updated Monday, Nov. 14

A woman who filed a civil suit against the buyout of Palmyra Medical Center by Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital spoke with FOX 31 on Monday.

Dr. Corleen Thompson says if the transaction is finalized, patients won't have a choice. She says without a choice, costs will increase for insurance companies, patient co-pays and premiums for businesses.

"Even more importantly we will not be able to grow because companies will not move to Albany if they know - and they would beforehand - know how bad the economic impact of healthcare is," says Thompson, also an epidemiologist and biostatistician.

Thompson also says she has concerns she wants addressed with the way the law is written for the Hospital Authority of Albany-Dougherty County.

"Because of the way Hospital Authority law is written, I have some concerns with that and I would like those to be addressed; that relates to making it more clear that one hospital agency cannot buyout a for-profit hospital within the same county," says Thompson.

Thompson says through this civil suit, she hopes she is a voice for the community's concerns with the Phoebe-Palmyra merger.

Her lawyer says a judge has not been assigned to the suit yet.

Original Story

Corleen Thompson of Dougherty County filed a civil suit in attempt to halt the merger of Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital and Palmyra Medical Center.

"The (Hospital) Authority, having relinquished responsibility for operation of Phoebe Putney, had no reason to acquire PMC, and does not have the expertise or resources to operate PMC," the 21 page document reads.

The document sites reasons to why the merger should not be finalized, including citizens losing "any meaningful choice" as to where they acquire hospital services, a compromise of the quality of healthcare in the area because of a lack of competition, and healthcare costs would continue to "increase faster than the national average."

"The absence of competition will thwart efforts to attract new industry, as the increased healthcare cost will continue to discourage prospective employers from relocating to Dougherty Count," according to the civil suit.

Currently the Federal Trade Commission is in the midst of an appeal in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals that began in October. They are appealing a decision made by Judge Louis Sands in June that dismissed an injunction against the Phoebe-Palmyra merger.

You can read the suit here.