Outpouring of concern at OMC!

Oconee County residents sat one and two rows deep last night in the meeting room of the board of directors at Oconee Medical Center. One month after a surprise announcement that the hospital at Seneca is entertaining the idea of affiliating with a larger health care organization, several Oconeeans took advantage of a chance to weigh-in on the prospects for change. Specifically, many came with concern about the prospects for losing their long-time community-based hospital. Jeanne Ward, OMC president/CEO, preceded their comments by stressing that affiliation with the Greenville Health Systems remains exploratory and in the talking stage only. Ward acknowledged a prevalent opinion throughout the community that the dye is cast and that a deal has already been made. The president/CEO got a vote of support from the night’s first speaker. A retired nurse, Molly Wempe, proclaimed her love for the hospital, though she conceded change is the only thing constant. Wempe says knowing Ward as she does, she’s confident the OMC president/CEO will do what’s right for the community. An Oconee County councilman, Wayne McCall, however, said county government’s efforts to attract business are liable to be affected if its local hospital surrenders control to a Greenville-based operation. A memorandum of understanding between OMC and GHS allows a task force of representatives from both to pursue a potential affiliation. If there’s an agreement, a letter of intent would follow. But Ward says OMC continues to field opinion from the public and there’s still time to be heard.