Thursday, March 25, 2010

25 MAR 10: Two Baby Places

Columbus Tea Party activists must have been at a loss for words Wednesday night. After all, isn't health care reform supposed to give us fewer medical choices? Yet before long, the hospital options for local expectant mothers will double -- at least until federal regulators get their act together.

St. Francis Hospital President Robert Granger announced Wednesday he's received approval to start an obstetrics and gynecological program. I'm a bit surprised he didn't announce this through a text message -- something like: "OB/GYN OK FTW!"

St. Francis Hospital plans to add five rooms for delivering babies, along with ten "post-partum" beds and a nursery. You can tell we're in 2010 by the fact that the plan has NO waiting room for fathers to pace or light cigars.

But not everyone is smiling about St. Francis's plan to deliver babies. The Ledger-Enquirer's web site reported letters of opposition were filed by The Medical Center and Doctors Hospital - and since they recently merged, I assume they saved money by writing a carbon copy.

(Would it be fair to say the Doctors Hospital and Medical Center executives "cribbed" each other's letters about baby delivery programs?)

Even Phoebe Sumter Medical Center in Americus filed a letter opposing St. Francis's OB/GYN program. I'm not sure why a hospital one hour from Columbus is concerned about this -- unless Phoebe Sumter believes all the Catholic mothers in south Georgia will make the extra drive.

The critics of St. Francis Hospital say a new OB/GYN program isn't needed in Columbus. But President Robert Granger says he's merely providing local competition. So we're looking at a burgeoning battle for baby business -- and we'll see if Columbus hospitals wind up in the red, or merely a girl's pink.

The announcement by St. Francis Hospital is noteworthy for another reason. Georgia has a Department of Community Health which oversees hospitals, and issues "certificates of need." If only someone issued that kind of certificate for legitimate panhandlers....

So when people complain about the "government taking over health care," they might be forgetting something. State governments oversee health care to some extent already -- from what hospitals can offer, to insurance commissioners monitoring health coverage. You'll notice Georgia's Republican Insurance Commissioner has done nothing to stop mandatory auto insurance.

Georgia and Alabama are divided when it comes to the new federal health care act. Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker revealed Wednesday he will NOT file suit to challenge the law, because the lawsuit is likely to fail. That decision could mean Baker's campaign for Governor is likely to fail as well....

But Alabama Attorney General Troy King already has filed suit to challenge the federal health care act. I read a question online asking how the state can afford to sue, when schools are facing seven-percent proration. But the answer should be obvious - the attorneys already are on staff, suing everyone they can find about electronic bingo.

As for the Columbus Tea Party: it plans a "funeral procession" around the Government Center this afternoon, beginning on the corner of Rep. Sanford Bishop's office. Members say they'll wear black to mark the "death of liberty" - so we hope Mayor Jim Wetherington doesn't take this as a terroristic threat.

-> We took a long nail to our most recent poker game. Read why at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

BLOG CORRECTION: After further review, we have concluded Benevolence Pumpkin Road actually is located in northern Randolph County, Georgia - NOT in Stewart County [19 Mar]. Hopefully I'll now feel safe driving on it.

Let's see what other news fruit was produced Wednesday....

+ The Columbus Crime Prevention Board held its first meeting. The chairman is Columbus Chamber of Commerce President Mike Gaymon - so look for a news conference explaining how a lower minimum wage will reduce the crime rate.

(Mayor Jim Wetherington told the board new Crime Prevention Director Seth Brown will need an assistant. Uh-oh - the critics who warned of more city bureaucracy could be right. Especially if Brown says he needs a public information officer, while Columbus Police still don't have one.)

+ The Georgia Senate approved a bill allowing people with gun permits to carry their weapons into churches. If this bill becomes law, we'll never again have to worry about a worship service running long.

+ Auburn University named Texas-El Paso's Tony Barbee its new men's basketball coach. He may not be able to guarantee a winning record next season, but it's safe to predict Auburn will have a "Barbee doll" giveaway night.

(Auburn found a new men's basketball coach in two weeks, while Columbus State's search is approaching a full month. This is what happens when one college uses that big-money job search site "The Ladders," while another doesn't.)

+ Auburn began spring football drills. The current leader in the race for starting quarterback is Cam Newton - which brings back memories of a pro hockey goaltender with that name from 40 years ago. Which also shows I had strangely tastes, even when I was in grade school.

+ Instant Message to whomever installs street signs in Phenix City: A "divided highway" sign is one thing. But calling Broad Street next to City Hall a "highway" is a bit of a stretch. A high-priced way, maybe....

SCHEDULED FRIDAY: Your comments on everything from Phenix City government to The Golden Cue....

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