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      Phoebe CEO: Transition at Palmyra will be 'seamless'

      The legal documents were filed and money was wired at approximately 1:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon transferring Palmyra Medical Center to the Hospital Authority; Palmyra will become Phoebe North as the keys are turned over at 12:01 a.m. Friday.

      Phoebe Putney CEO Joel Wernick says the transition will be seamless for employees and patients.

      Phoebe Putney Chief Operations Officer Joe Austin says patients at Palmyra/Phoebe North will remain at that hospital unless they need surgery that can only be done at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital. Wernick says patients will have to allow Phoebe physicians access to their medical records or the patients will have to seek treatment elsewhere.

      As for insurance policies, Wernick says contracts through the Hospital Corporation of America and Palmyra will be assumed by Phoebe.

      "All of the contracts that currently with HCA (Hospital Corporation of America), aforemanaged care will be assumed by organization and then we'll go through the process over time to transition those contracts to those that are specifically with Phoebe," says Wernick.

      A concern among the public regarding the acquisition of Palmyra to Phoebe Putney has been an increase in local health care cost. Wernick says the goal with consolidating Palmyra is to see how Phoebe can lower costs for patients.

      Wernick says he plans to welcome all of Palmyra TMs employees to the Phoebe family. He says they do have to follow the same protocol Phoebe employees do when being brought into the company, including taking a drug test. Others will not be employed for other reasons, he says.

      "It might have been some folks who at one time worked here and left under circumstances that might not have been the best but it was a very, very small number, and we anticipate that all the folks that are there today will become Phoebe family tomorrow," says Wernick. "We've been having meetings with the employees where they get to meet and ask any questions, and, I would encourage you to ask them, but I think they're glad and relieved the transaction has finally come to a close."

      Austin says the facility, filing systems and employees at the former Palmyra building are "high quality."

      "I've been over there a number of times already and there's just a great group of people there we're just so glad to have that group join the phoebe family over here," says Austin.

      Back one year ago when the transaction first began, Phoebe officials discussed turning the former Palmyra facility into a women and children's hospital. For now the plans are still uncertain, according to Austin, and it could take months before any departments are transferred or any construction is complete.

      "Honestly that's a number of months before we get to that point; that's just not a quick process. If we were to decide now it's going to be "x" type of hospital, we'd have to go through the process of planning, state approval , etcetera to make that happen," he says. Austin says any construction to Phoebe North would be done to the interior to accommodate the facilities and departments Phoebe wants to put on the campus.

      Stay connected to FOX 31 News and for more details as the transition of Palmyra to Phoebe North continues.