Bainbridge, Hospital Authority join opioid lawsuit

Published 5:02 pm Friday, March 23, 2018

Members of Memorial Hospital and Manor Authority voted at their monthly meeting Tuesday afternoon to participate with the City of Bainbridge and Decatur County Commission in the Opioid class action lawsuit being filed by the law firm of Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, PC. against the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture opioids. The vote was far from unanimous. There were three yeas and three nays, with Authority President Glennie Bench, breaking the tie with a yes vote.

The City of Bainbridge chose to join the lawsuit Tuesday night by a unanimous vote.

The lawsuits claim opioid usage has become an epidemic in Georgia, putting strains on healthcare, draining public resources and increasing costs on law enforcement.

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Opioids include painkillers like OxyContin, Vicodin, Percoset, morphine, heroine, Fentanyl and Carfentanil.

These drugs release dopamine, which causes pleasure, relieves pain and slows down breathing. Unfortunately, 91 people die from an opioid overdose every day. Deaths from prescription opioids have more than quadrupled since 1999 and providers in the highest prescribing counties provided six times more opioids than those in the lowest prescribing counties.

A thorough review of the key financial indicators for the month of February was had and Hospital CEO Jim Lambert called it “A good month.”

There was a net income of $39,524 for the month in contrast with January, 2018, when there was a loss of $223,413; and compared to February, 2017, when the loss was $258,708. Lambert’s monthly report included information on some of the following issues:

• The recent forum held for the Collaborative Impact for Decatur County, where information was shared about the results of the research conducted into the key health issues of the county and the plan developed on how to address the issues.

• An update on the evaluation for development of a wound clinic to be used in treatment of such things as diabetic issues, burns, spider bites, etc.

• A contract has been sent to a prospective new OB/GYN physician who was interviewed and expressed interest. Response needed by March 27.

• A new IT director, Michael Reynolds, has been hired. He comes from Archbold Medical Center. The search for a new CFO continues.

• The Georgia HEART campaign should be a good thing for the hospital and all taxpayers. An effort is being worked on to reach out to the whole community to encourage participation.

• The establishment of an Employee Advisory Committee to help him identify issues and concerns and work together to find solutions. The first meeting of 16 persons willing to serve was scheduled for Thursday, March 22.

The construction projects are continuing at the hospital and several issues were discussed as the Authority reviewed the Building and Grounds Committee meeting minutes. The front entry has been blocked off to accommodate the work going on in that area, including the replacement of flooring and the automatic doors.

A planning retreat for board members has been scheduled for April 20 and 21, and Lambert indicated there would be a presentation from the Georgia Hospital Association to assist with planning procedures.