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Covington-Newton Medical, Piedmont finalize deal
COVINGTON-Newton Medical and Piedmont Finalize Deal

Public Hearing on Newton Medical Center’s partnership with Piedmont Healthcare.

When: July 28, 4 p.m. *

Where: Newton Medical Center Auditorium

Who: The Attorney General, Newton Medical Center and Piedmont Healthcare officias

*time subject to change

Newton Medical Center will soon become Piedmont Newton Hospital after NMC finalized a partnership agreement with Piedmont Healthcare earlier this week.

The agreement, sent to the Attorney General’s office on Tuesday, is for Piedmont Health Care to be the lessee of the Newton County Hospital Authority and all the assets of the Newton County Medical Center for a 40-year period of time. Piedmont will be the sole operator of the hospital, Newton Medical Center CEO Jim Weadick told The News.

According to a release NMC will formally become a subsidiary of Piedmont Healthcare on Oct. 1

“Because of Piedmont’s reputation, we have been anticipating this affiliation for months,” Weadick, said in a statement. “Their manner of placing safe patient care, concern for their personnel, and caring for the community where they serve is compatible with ours."

"The high quality of specialists and services they provide is a great opportunity for our community," he continued. "We’re excited about what this means for our employees and patients.”

Much of the hospital’s current operations will remain the same with the administration expected to remain intact.

“There are to be no changes for the first year,” Weadick said.

The biggest change for patients will be new signs, including a billboard and name badges on personnel. For staff, changes will include a new computer system and possibly a change from Newton Medical’s 403(b) to Piedmont’s 401(k).

“The first thing (patients) will notice is the change on the sign on the highway and when they come through the doors of the hospital,” Weadick said. “But the Penicillin will still be the same, the X-ray machines will be the same and the beds will be the same ones they have in Piedmont.”

Another change to the hospital is one that has been anticipated for years. NMC has yet to begin construction on the emergency department expansion voted in by Newton County voters with a $4 million Special Purpose Local Option Sales tax in 2011.

Weadick said now that Piedmont is on board the project will move forward starting within 12 months. The $4 million in SPLOST funds will be augmented by $3 million from Piedmont.

“I believe we will have a solid partner that can assist us to continue to acquire the necessary investments in both clinical and non-clinical capital areas, and one of those areas is the SPLOST moneys that have been earmarked by the residents of Newton County for the emergency room expansion,” Weadick said.

Newton County residents currently see some of their tax money go to help the hospital with the indigent care and ambulance services, and when Piedmont comes on board none of that will change, according to Weadick.

The county puts out .45 mils to go to a portion of operating ambulance service, and another 1.2 mils to help with indigent patients.

According to the statement, the relationship will involve a long-term lease of assets from Newton County Hospital Authority. Throughout the next 90-120 days, regulatory approvals will be pursued and public hearings will be held prior to the signing of definitive agreements to complete the partnership.

“Newton has demonstrated a dedication to high-quality, patient-centered care,” said Kevin Brown, President and CEO of Piedmont Healthcare. “They will be a great partner, and we look forward to this collaborative journey to expand serving our local communities.”

Newton Medical Center announced it was seeking an equity partner in September, and made the proposal with Piedmont Healthcare public in January.

The Newton General Hospital Authority was created in February 1952 and the hospital was opened in 1954 with 36 beds. Newton Medical Center is now a 97-bed medical facility serving Covington and the surrounding areas.

NMC will be the fifth hospital under Piedmont Healthcare along with its flagship location.

Piedmont Healthcare is a private, not-for-profit organization that serves nearly two million patients primarily in North Georgia communities but also across the State. The five hospitals include Piedmont Atlanta Hospital, a 529-bed general and specialty acute-care hospital Buckhead; Piedmont Fayette Hospital, a 172-bed, acute-care community hospital in Fayetteville and one of the 100 Top Hospitals® in the nation; Piedmont Mountainside Hospital, a 52-bed community hospital in Jasper; Piedmont Newnan Hospital, a 136-bed, acute-care community hospital in Newnan; and Piedmont Henry Hospital, a 215-bed acute-care community hospital in Stockbridge.