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Hospital loses $300,000 more than expected

THOMSON --- McDuffie Regional Medical Center cannot escape the economic forces that have caused hospital realignments across Georgia and the U.S., hospital authority chairman Bill Doupé said Monday.

He said the hospital had expected to lose money this year because of declining admissions and other factors, but has lost about $300,000 more than budgeted.

Doupé said the board will decide the hospital's direction "sometime in the very near future."

A purchase offer from University Hospital in Augusta has been on the table since at least March. The McDuffie board has yet to disclose terms of the offer, but has met in closed session several times.

Earlier Monday, Thomson Realtor Brink Bradshaw announced a public meeting to push for public involvement in any possible hospital sale. That meeting will be at 2:30 p.m. Monday at the Thomson-McDuffie Government Center.

Asked for his reaction, Doupé said he had not been informed of that meeting.

Doupé talked with local media after the hospital authority met in open and then closed session Monday evening. That session followed an open meeting of the finance authority, at which the budget figures were released.

Doupé thanked the press and the public for their patience during the several months of discussions. He said the board is still bound by a confidentiality agreement that forbids release of the offer.

He said hospital CEO Doug Keir's careful management has allowed the hospital to stay solvent, but there is no guarantee that the hospital could operate indefinitely without exhausting its reserves.

He said the decision will be among the most difficult he ever has to make. He said the process has involved soul-searching by all nine members of the board and the three emeritus members who witness the discussion.

Asked whether the board is considering possible new management partnerships in addition to purchase offers, Doupé said he is not at liberty to comment.

He said Georgia law ensures public input on a decision such as a hospital sale. He said the board has prepared for and complied with such a public review process since the inception of talks.

The board will not be rushed into a decision by concerns about that procedure, he said, but will reach a decision in the very near future.

Hospital board members are Anita Cummings, Michelle Collins, Jackie Dupree, Jerry Harrison, John Seay, Dr. Daryl Wiley, Dr. Joe Wills, Renee Wright and Doupé.

Emeritus members who participate in the meetings are Robin dudley, Rusty Lovelave and Doug Whitaker.

Web posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011

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