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Saturday May 30th, 2015 2:34AM

HMC and NEGMC sign letter of intent

By Staff
GAINESVILLE - Northeast Georgia Medical Center and the Habersham County Hospital Authority have signed a letter of intent relating to the operation of Habersham Medical Center.

The two hospitals signed the LOI Wednesday.

According to a press statement, the LOI allows both organizations to work more closely on their strategic planning effort and create those plans in a more detailed manner. While the type of arrangement model between the two organizations has not been finally determined, both groups have specified in the LOI to work towards a possible lease arrangement.

"A lease makes sense for our organizations due the level of integration our hospital needs to be successful for the future," said Jerry Wise, CEO of Habersham Medical Center. "A lease allows us access to the sophisticated infrastructure already in place at Northeast Georgia Medical Center, such as information technology and revenue cycle processes, that we must have to be positioned well going forward."

Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) leases its hospital in Gainesville from the Hospital Authority of Hall County and the City of Gainesville.

"The lease model has worked well for the Hospital Authority of Hall County and the City of Gainesville for more than 25 years," said Benny Bagwell, chair of the Authority. "The Authority provides oversight of Northeast Georgia Medical Center to ensure the quality and continuity of this community asset, while allowing Medical Center officials to operate the hospital independently."

While officials explore the terms of a lease arrangement for Habersham Medical Center, they acknowledge there are still many details to be determined.

"We are still working out the details," said David Kerby, chair of the Hospital Authority of Habersham County, "but we do know this is the type of agreement we must move towards. The new era readiness assessment performed by Kaufman Hall, a national healthcare consultant, exposed our areas of critical need and revealed clearly that we must find a strategic partner to help address these needs. Our work thus far with Northeast Georgia Medical Center has proven that they are the most logical partner for us."

Officials expect this next phase of in depth diligence to last until late Fall.
A definitive agreement is expected to be signed and submitted to the State Attorney General for review, and that review will likely take four to six months. An operational change would not occur until Spring 2014.

"We are pleased with the progress we have made in our strategic planning effort and look forward to defining our future agreement," said NGHS President and CEO Carol Burrell.
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