Justices Won't Hear Satilla Case; Twelve Cardiologists Want the Ruling Granting Them Privileges Made Permanent

By Dickson, Terry | The Florida Times Union, September 20, 2006 | Go to article overview

Justices Won't Hear Satilla Case; Twelve Cardiologists Want the Ruling Granting Them Privileges Made Permanent


Dickson, Terry, The Florida Times Union


Byline: TERRY DICKSON

Patients sometimes want second opinions of medical diagnoses.

In Ware County, Satilla Health System often seeks an opinion from another court.

The hospital got one it didn't want Monday when the Georgia Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of lower court rulings that Satilla must grant hospital privileges to a dozen cardiologists. John Bumgartner, a Brunswick lawyer representing the 12 doctors, said he will petition Superior Court Judge Dwayne Gillis to make that the permanent ruling of the court.

"We are obviously disappointed that the Supreme Court declined to hear our case, but the courts have spoken, so we will continue business as usual, providing a full range of cardiology services with our focus being the assurance that area residents have the best possible access to cardiac care," Satilla said in a prepared release.

While that may be the final word in that suit, others are pending that the hospital also said it would defend.

Three other cardiologists have sued Satilla Health Services saying they were wrongly denied privileges to admit and treat heart patients.

One physician said it's time for the hospital administration to get out of court and concentrate on providing the best medical care possible.

Earl Martin, a longtime family practice physician in Blackshear and Waycross, said the hospital should not have taken the case to Georgia's highest court. Martin stressed the opinion is personal and that he's not speaking for McKinney Community Health Center where he practices.

"The primary reason for the hospital is to take care of patients. If you're involved in court battles, it's distracting,'' he said.

The appeal stemmed from a case in which Gillis ruled the hospital had to restore full privileges to cardiologists Willie Bell and Joel Ferree. Gillis also ruled that 10 St. Vincent cardiologists working in Waycross as Diagnostic Cardiology Associates also can work inside the hospital.

The hospital had banned Bell and Ferree from its facilities after they failed to reach an agreement on continuing to provide cardiology services at the hospital as they had for years. …

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