Griffin Board of Commissioners member Dick Morrow, who also sits on the Board of Health, said the board voted 4-1, with Spalding County Board of Commissioners Chairman Eddie Goss dissenting, to approve the merger.
“We just sort of reviewed the process and final paperwork,” Morrow said. “It was a fairly short discussion.”
Morrow said the overwhelming opinion of the board was that the merged clinics would be a net benefit for the community. The board voted to approve the joint resolution, the bylaws and the articles of incorporation that name the combined clinic the Hope Health Clinic of Spalding County Inc. According to the bylaws approved, the clinic would be a non-sectarian tax-exempt organization with 501(c)(3) status.
The board also appointed Board of Health Chairwoman Merrilea Reeves as a three-year appointee to the board of the combined clinics and Griffin-Spalding County School Nurse Supervisor Denise Eady to a two-year term.
The next step is for the Hope Health Clinic’s board to approve the merger.
“We think it’s great and we’re moving forward to putting the two clinics together,” said Hope Health Clinic Executive Director Harry Kierbow.
He hasn’t set a date for the Hope Health Clinic board to meet to vote on the merger but hopes to schedule the meeting on Monday or Tuesday.
Goss explained the rationale behind his dissent.
“Once the board is set up for the new combined clinic, that board will decide who, in the future, the new board members are,” he said.
He said he had no problem with the two clinics being combined but said he did not approve of board members being able to reappoint themselves. He said it would be better if the Spalding County Board of Health, the Spalding County Board of Commissioners or both approved new members.
He said the clinic would be the only board in the county that receives taxpayer monies but appoints its own members.
Morrow denied that taxpayer monies were ever used or will be used to fund the clinics. He said the primary source of funding is the Griffin-Spalding County Hospital Authority and other grants provide additional funds.
Spalding County Health Department Administrative Manager Tim Skinner said the Hospital Authority funds the clinics. When bills come in, they are sent to the Hospital Authority and Spalding County. The Hospital Authority approves the expenditure and the county writes the check.