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Adel, County send letters of support for new hospital

The Adel city manager and Cook County administrator, the latter on behalf of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, have now sent letters of support for the new hospital project in Cook County.


The Adel City Council voted Monday, April 17, to commit up to $4 million over 30 years for the new hospital project. The action will involve a Memorandum of Understanding (a contract) with the Hospital Authority of Tift County. With an overflow crowd of concerned citizens present, the County Commission voted unanimously March 6 to have County Attorney Daniel Connell move forward with drafting a Memorandum of Understanding and Intergovernmental Agreement with the Tift County Hospital Authority for the building/funding of a new hospital facility. The County Commissioners have agreed to the commitment of up to $5 million over 30 years.


In a letter regarding the County’s financial commitment, dated April 18, 2017, to Chris Dorman, Chief Operating Officer, Tift Regional Health System, County Administrator Faye Hughes states:

“Dear Mr. Dorman: “I write this letter on behalf of the Cook County Board of Commissioners.

“The Cook County Board of Commissioners have agreed to a commitment of a $5,000,000 contribution toward the Tift County Hospital Authority for the purpose of constructing, equipping, and operating a facility in Cook County that consists of the following: 

“At least eight (8) acute care beds, ninety-five (95) long term care beds, a twelve (12) bed geriatric psychiatric unit, a six (6) bed pre- and post-care observation unit, an ambulatory surgery center, ancillary services and a rural health clinic that is open seven (7) days a week.

“Cook County agrees to pay $5,000,000 amortized over thirty (30) years at a rate that is equal to the secured rate of the Authority’s USDA Rural Development Loan (not to be below 3.375 percent) due in equal annual payments.

“We look forward to participating in the project and are ready to enter into an agreement and memorandum of understanding once our attorneys have those documents completed. We are prepared to make the first annual payment once all documents are completely endorsed with full faith and confidence the authority will fulfill the commitment included in the agreement. Should you have any questions concerning Cook County’s commitment please feel free to contact me at (229) 896-2266.


Faye Hughes, County Administrator”


The letter is copied to County Attorney Daniel Connell and the Board of County Commissioners.


In a letter to William T. Richardson, President and CEO, Tift Regional Health System, Adel City Manager John Flythe states:

“Dear Mr. Richardson:

“I am writing in support of Tift County Hospital Authority (TCHA) and its mission to serve the healthcare needs in Tift and Cook Counties. The Hospital and its programs are a vital part of the continued success and ongoing support of our healthcare needs in the rural service area.

“I also express our sincere support of the applicant’s proposed financing through USDA for the facility construction to allow for enhanced services to our community. Utilizing the USDA Community Facilities Direct Loan financing structure, TCHA can continue to meet the growing needs and expectations of its residents while operating under the most sound and reasonable financial structure available. I fully support Tift County Hospital Authority and its efforts in applying for USDA enhanced financing.


“John H. Flythe, City Manager”


In response to the County’s and City’s recent actions, Michael Purvis, Cook Medical Center President/CEO, said, “The Hospital Authority of Tift County is waiting on the City of Adel, Cook County Board of Commissioners and the Adel Industrial Development Authority to execute intergovernmental agreements in order for the replacement facility project to move forward. These officials are responsible stewards who are doing their due diligence. We look forward to having these agreements in place soon."


Based on feedback from area residents, Purvis said there seems to be a perception from some in the community that Cook Medical Center is closed.

"We would like to reiterate that Cook Medical Center has closed its emergency room, not the whole hospital," he said. “Cook Medical Center is still going strong with our acute care services, Sylvia Barr Center, Cook Senior Living Center, diagnostic imaging, sleep studies, rehabilitation services, laboratory, primary care clinics and more."


Purvis said approximately 95 percent of Cook Medical Center's emergency patients used the ER for minor injuries and illnesses.

"To provide a more costeffective and appropriate level of care, we closed the ER and have added a new convenient care clinic to Cook Family Wellness Center," he said. "This new walkin clinic is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. It's the place to go for minor illnesses and injuries with little or no wait time.

“Parents may bring kids with fever, minor injuries and sore throats. We have experienced an influx of children due to the flu being extremely active this season with the parents raving about the affordability and accessibility compared to other walk in clinics in the area.

“Cook Family Wellness Center is located directly across from Cook Medical Center's main entrance at 103 East James Street. We even have a 24-hour nurse line which can be used when the clinic is closed. We have received much positive feedback regarding the new convenient care clinic. Please call Cook Family Wellness Center at 229-896-3424 for more information.”


During the April 17 meeting of Adel Mayor/Council, Purvis, who also serves as a City Council Member, asked that he be recused from any discussion or voting related to this item since he serves as the CEO of the hospital.


City Manager John Flythe then advised that the City and County have both previously agreed by resolution to commit amounts of $2 million by the City and $5 million by the County toward a new hospital facility to offset indigent care expenses.


The Adel Industrial Development Authority has agreed to purchase the property in question which is presently owned by the State of Georgia (Georgia Forestry Commission); they in turn will purchase another piece of property, which they will swap and move the Forestry Commission to the new location. Local officials are in discussions with the State Properties Commission about acquiring the Georgia Forestry Commission property on M.J. Taylor Road (near I-75 Exit 37).


“The total output by the community is requested at $10.2 million so this will leave a $2 million gap,” Flythe said. “We are asking the Mayor and Council to fund up to $4 million on this project for purchase and other things associated with this project. This will not include the utilities that the City of Adel will have to extend to the property. It will cement the deal as far as the hospital and construction. We would like to authorize the Mayor to execute the contract.


“We also need to send a letter to the Tift Hospital Authority, owner of the facility, regarding our commitment. The County and AIDA would also need to submit one as well. Hopefully, this can be done prior to the meeting to be held by the hospital on Wednesday (April 19). After this, the City, County and AIDA will all have to sign an MOU binding ourselves to each other or to the hospital authority, whichever way that portion is legally formatted.”


Mayor Buddy Duke further stated that after the MOU is given to the hospital authority, it will then give the City of Adel the opportunity to reach out to federal and state agencies for grants and for other capital fundraisers to assist with the funds needed for the construction of the hospital.


Tift Regional Medical Center is pursuing USDA financing of "a total replacement facility" for Cook Medical Center, Cook Senior Living Center, and the Sylvia Barr Center. The new hospital will cost more than $35 million. Tift Regional is seeking USDA financing to include the construction of the Cook Medical Center replacement facility in Adel, a Musculoskeletal Center in Tifton, and a new Emergency Center and Patient Tower on the existing campus of Tift Regional Medical Center. Projects funds will also be utilized to expand physician practices in Tift's service area. The Hospital Authority of Tift County is applying for project financing through the USDA Community Facilities Program. The total amount involved would be approximately $200 million.


Tift Regional plans to in turn loan up to $4 million to the City and $5 million to the County to fulfill their funding obligations, at an interest rate to be determined (projected not to be below 3.375 percent) over the 30-year time frame.


During the April 17 meeting, Council Member Jody Greene made a motion to approve authorizing the Mayor to execute a MOU with the hospital for up to $4 million with the payment over a period of 30 years, on behalf of the City for assistance with construction of a hospital. Councilman Butch Fausett seconded. All members voted in favor with the exception of Councilman Purvis, who abstained.


City Attorney Tim Tanner clarified, “We are moving forward pursuant to a proper legal IGA (Intergovernmental Agreement) with Tift Regional Hospital Authority for the provision of indigent care and medical care facilities for Adel and Cook County; $4M over a period of 30 years at an agreed upon and acceptable interest rate.”


The local hospital, formerly Memorial Hospital of Adel, has been part of the community since 1950, after local leaders worked together to plan and build the project. Cook Medical Center is the second largest employer in Cook County next to the school system. The hospital employs approximately 200 people, and another 50 jobs will be needed for the new facility. 

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