It is time to reorganize our hospital’s governing body. 

We are pleased the accreditation for South Georgia Medical Center is no longer up in the air. 

We want our hospital to be successful. 

The dedicated, hard-working staff at the hospital serves patients at a very high level every day. 

SGMC generously gives back to the community. 

From what we have heard, having accreditation fully restored was no easy task and we commend the administration, the governing body, practitioners and staff for doing the things that had to be done. 

That’s the good news. 

And we were happy to celebrate that good news along with the positive, uplifting and heartwarming stories coming out of SGMC that we regularly share with the community thanks to the fine staff in the hospital’s communications department. 

With all the good that is going on, it is now time for the leadership of SGMC to go the next step. 

In fact, it is more than a step, it is a giant leap but it is what must happen for the good of SGMC and for the good of the community. 

It is time for reorganization. 

It is time for the Hospital Authority of Valdosta and Lowndes County to turn over the reins. 

The self-perpetuating model of the hospital authority, essentially appointing itself and the city and county governments merely rubber-stamping those appointments, is not productive of any good. 

The entrenched leadership of SGMC’s governing body needs to move on. 

Even more important is replacing this outdated, antiquated, ineffective form of governance. 

Nearly every hospital system in Georgia has reorganized, and not only does the SGMC authority operate in an antiquated governing model with little to no accountability, it even operates under an exception to state regulations by hand-picking its own members. 

There are a few different models to look at, but largely we are talking about a third-party nonprofit that is subject to all Georgia open meetings and open records laws, governing the hospital and essentially leasing the facilities from a newly formed authority for a token amount. The most important aspect of the reorganization is it would completely block the authority from having its hand in the day-to-day operations of the hospital. 

Last year, Sam Allen, the chairman of the authority, said reorganization was on the table, and authority members agreed to hire an outside firm to study and recommend the best path forward toward reorganizing.

That never happened. 

Later, Allen said it would be up to a new chief executive officer to start the reorganization process. 

That hasn’t happened either. 

Until it does happen, SGMC risks running down the exact same path that has led to the revolving door in the C-suite and the risk of losing accreditation. 

We are calling on state Sen. Ellis Black and Reps. John LaHood, John Corbett, Dexter Sharper and James Burchett, along with Mayor John Gayle and County Commission Chairman Bill Slaughter, to draft local legislation and have it ready to introduce when the General Assembly reconvenes in January. 

Do not wait for the Hospital Authority of Valdosta and Lowndes County to do it voluntarily. 

We’ve waited long enough. 

Make this happen for the good of our hospital and the good of our community.

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