(SAVANNAH) Memorial Health Medical Center is the biggest public hospital in our region,employing roughly 5,000 people. But a deal in the works could mean new management for the biggest hospital in the region. The window for public comment on the proposal is set to close in three weeks. The paperwork for a North Carolina healthcare company to acquire Memorial was filed with the Georgia Department of Community Health in Atlanta on December 7, 2015. Novant Health, Incorporated, based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and Savannah based, Memorial Health, Incorporated, have filed paperwork with the state for quote, “the acquisition of a hospital”.
The deal with Novant Health was not on the agenda during the Wednesday morning meeting of the Chatham Hospital Authority. The nine member panel, appointed by the County Commission, oversees the hospital and the land where Memorial sits on Waters Avenue. The went into into executive session within minutes of the start of their meeting inside the hospital Wednesday morning, citing strategic planning as the reason to meet behind closed doors. News Three went to the Chatham County Manager’s Offices on Bull Street to get a look at the paperwork, labeled a Certificate of Need. There are hundreds of pages in a three-ring binder, available for public review. The public comment period opened December 7, 2015 and concludes February 18, 2016.
Speaking by phone, Chatham County Commission Chairman, Al Scott, said the deal is not a sale and the public has not missed their chance to share an opinion. ” There is plenty of time for public comment… but the hospital is not for sale and can not be sold.” Scott said. News 3 finds no evidence that the public has been made aware of the comment period. John Hart, an attorney for Chatham County says it’s a management deal. “It’s an agreement to share running the hospital, a strategic agreement with an outside hospital organization.” said Hart.
News 3 reached out to the agency that will receive public input into the proposal, but Jeremy Arieh, Deputy Director of Communications & Legislative Affairs with the Georgia Department of Community Health, says in the six weeks since the paperwork was filed, no letters of opposition or letters of support have been received and added to the Certificate of Need. A final decision by that agency is set for April 18, 2016.Arieh says public comment can be made to the Georgia Department of Community Health. Click link below to view the full, 66-page application document on file with the state. It is also available for public viewing during business hours in the Chatham County Manager’s Office at 124, Bull Street, Savannah.