Appeals Court Rules for Doctors; the 3 Cardiologists Will Be Able to Get Satilla Regional Health Center Privileges

By Dickson, Terry | The Florida Times Union, March 14, 2008 | Go to article overview

Appeals Court Rules for Doctors; the 3 Cardiologists Will Be Able to Get Satilla Regional Health Center Privileges


Dickson, Terry, The Florida Times Union


Byline: TERRY DICKSON

The Georgia Court of Appeals has ruled that a Superior Court judge erred in not granting a preliminary injunction that would have compelled Satilla Regional Health Center in Waycross to give hospital privileges to three cardiologists.

The decision is the latest in a series arising from suits filed by 15 physicians. In others, Georgia's appeals courts ruled that Satilla improperly revoked, denied or restricted the hospital privileges of a dozen cardiologists, including Willie Bell and Joel Ferree, who formerly provided cardiology services at the hospital in a partnership with St. Vincent's Medical Center.

John Bumgartner, the Brunswick lawyer who represents the doctors, said the ruling will allow cardiologists John Madonna Jr., Sonya Lefever and James Grigsby to finally see their patients inside the hospital. All have been treating patients in Waycross with South Georgia Cardiologists Associates. Because Satilla refused to grant them hospital privileges, however, any patient they admitted to Satilla had to be seen by another of the group's physicians.

Although the Court of Appeals ruling was on only a preliminary injunction, the court ruled that the lower court judge had misinterpreted the law and that means a permanent injunction should be issued without any further court action, Bumgartner said.

Within a few days, barring an appeal by Satilla, the three doctors should be able to apply for credentials, Bumgartner said.

"These are extremely qualified doctors. ... That process shouldn't take more than 60 days,'' he said.

Satilla still has a few days, however, to decide if it will appeal the decision to the Georgia Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, the hospital said it was disappointed but not surprised given it was the same court that overturned the late Superior Court Judge Stephen Jackson's decision that would have resulted in Satilla getting a certificate of need to provide open-heart services. …

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