The Medical Center of Central Georgia has been preparing for the future as it plans an $18.4 million physicians office building, continues talks about acquiring a local ambulance service and looks forward to being a partner in building a new Peach County hospital.
However, rumors that the Medical Center is taking over the hospital in Milledgeville are not true, said Don Faulk, president and CEO of Central Georgia Health System, the parent organization for the Medical Center.
The hospital recently received the certificate of need approval from the state for a four-story office building at 800 First St. to replace an outdated building on that site, Faulk said.
“When we were creating the (Georgia) Heart Center and trying to envision how to have good physician office support, (the existing building) was one thing that just kept getting in the way,” he said. “It was thought as we coordinate and consolidate our heart services from a bed perspective in the Heart Center, heart services from related physicians and maybe some outpatient services that exist now in the Heart Center could be located there.”
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The plan is to tear down the existing 800 First St. building that was built in the 1950s and rebuild a building that would tie into the 682 Hemlock office building “in a more coherent, planned fashion,” Faulk said. The Hemlock office building is where the “single largest cardiology group is located” as well as other physicians. Also, it would have its own parking deck at the rear toward Second Street.
Partnership with Peach County on course
As announced in June, a new $28 million Peach Regional Medical Center would be built as the result of a partnership between the hospital authority, the Medical Center and Central Georgia Health System.
An upcoming meeting with the state attorney general, a required step by the state, will be held to determine that the transaction is in the best interest of the public, Faulk said.
“Hopefully, we can get an early ruling so we can go ahead and proceed,” he said.
The Medical Center and Central Georgia Health System would help in financing the new hospital, and it would operate under a structured lease agreement for a certain period of time.
Talks continue with ambulance service
Years of discussions with privately owned Mid Georgia Ambulance Service for it to merge with or be acquired by the Medical Center continue, Faulk said.
“We have not reached any decision,” he said. “It is complicated.”
Mid Georgia has operations outside of Macon, including Columbus. “It’s a little more involved than just an ambulance service here in Macon, so that has added a layer of complexity,” he said.
“Does the synergy make sense?” he said. “That’s been the content of conversations we’ve always had -- whether he’s initiated it or we’ve initiated it -- which is basically what do the future hold and ... does it make sense for us to get together. ... So, we’re still figuring that out.”
No deadline for a decision has been made “because of the uncertainties of health care sort of make hard deadlines not the most important thing,” Faulk said. “We don’t want to spend any more time on something that’s not going forward, but as long as there is a reason to continue to talk, we want to do that.”
Faulk dispels rumors of hospital takeover
While Faulk agreed it has been “in talks” with Mid Georgia Ambulance for years, he dismissed as rumors that the Medical Center was taking over Oconee Regional Medical Center in Milledgeville.
“It has not happened. It is not happening,” he said. “I won’t say it will never happen.”
Faulk said he had met with Oconee Regional officials off and on for nearly two years, but those discussions are something he’s done with a lot of other hospitals.
“As the financial viability for health care and hospitals get more stressed, there is a lot of dialogue going on whether coming together may make sense,” Faulk said. “So, what we’ve been doing for the last couple of years is just talking with the hospitals in our region to sort of see what’s on their mind. How can we serve them better? Are there some things we should do together? Should we be doing anything?”
“We do have a good relationship with Oconee Regional,” he said., “But it’s very much just a discussion.”
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report.