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Residents tell board they support doctor

A delegation of nine persons, all patients of Dr. Ileana Popa, attended the finance committee and authority board meeting of Memorial Hospital and Manor on Tuesday afternoon.

Each had requested time to address the board in public participation.

This appeared to be an unusual meeting, in that neither the agenda for the finance committee set for 4 p.m., nor the agenda for the authority scheduled for 5 p.m., published and distributed to The Post-Searchlight listed any public participation requests.

Dr. Popa is a local internal medicine physician, the wife of Dr. Ovidiu Popa, local obstetrician and gynecologist.

The first speaker, Joe Forshee, a resident of Seminole County, said he was a lung cancer patient who really should not even be alive, but that Dr. Ileana Popa had really taken care of him and his family. He was upset because he had heard she would be leaving her Bainbridge practice the end of January due to her contract with the hospital not being renewed. He said it was his understanding that this was because she was not seeing enough patients, and therefore not generating enough income.

“She is a life-saver,” he urged the hospital authority to reconsider its decision. Forshee went on to comment that often he went to see Dr. Popa she was the one who took his temperature and blood pressure, and conducted all the other procedures that would normally be done by a nurse.

“She has no help. You all should get her some help,” Forshee said.

Forshee was followed by the other eight individuals who gave similar comments of support and appreciation for Dr. Popa and the care given them or their family members.

A frequent comment from those giving testimony was the difficulty persons have finding a doctor in Bainbridge. One who had been under the care of Dr. Bennett said that when he left they found none of the other doctors in town were accepting new patients.

Two patients commented that they never had a doctor who was as thorough and spent time with them as Dr. Popa did, adding she doesn’t stop until she finds the problem. They concluded by saying that if she leaves they will go wherever she goes.

All expressed the feeling that they couldn’t understand why the hospital would not renew her contract when there is such a shortage of physicians in the area and here we have one willing and able in Dr. Popa.

After each of the persons was given five minutes to speak, Joe Livingston, president of the board, responded by saying that he and the board members appreciated the time they took to come to the meeting and express their thoughts. He promised that their comments would be taken into consideration.

Board Chairman Livingston told The Post-Searchlight in a phone interview on Wednesday that Dr. Ileana Popa could certainly continue to practice medicine in Bainbridge as a private practitioner, and not an employee of the hospital, if she chose to do so. He affirmed that there are several physicians practicing in Bainbridge who are not hospital employees.

When asked if she would have hospital privileges if she were in private practice, Livingston replied that she would be welcome to apply for them.

Other business

A report was given on the status and findings of the Nov. 4 and 5 visit from the Joint Commission of Accreditation. The survey was reported to have been very positive, with no requirements found for improving direct patient care.

Indirect findings concerned such matters as monitoring the moisture content and carbon monoxide in the medical air in ICU and the nursery, guard rails on the loading docks, magnetic locks on the doors into the operating rooms, and the inability to read the ratings on frames of doors, as they had been painted over.

CEO and President Jim Peak said this was probably the best survey this hospital has ever had, adding that many of the things commented on were done according to the standards and specifications of the time they were built.

Following Peak’s comments the board moved and voted to go into executive session, without addressing the other items listed on the agenda for the authority meeting.

When it came out of executive session, the board unanimously voted to immediately terminate Peak’s contract.