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Conflict leaves patients without doctors office
Drs. John, Angela Gerguis part with HMA, set up new office
W John Gerguis mug
Dr. John Gerguis

New location
Drs. John and Angela Gerguis
16915 Georgia Highway 67, Suite A
(Optim Orthopedics office)
Statesboro, GA 30458

Phone: (912) 486-2359

Appointments available beginning at 1 p.m. Friday, Aug. 16

For more than a week, about 3,000 patients of a Statesboro family physician’s practice have had no office to visit.

The husband-and-wife team of Drs. John and Angela Gerguis and Health Management Associates Inc. parted ways last week and each party has their own interpretation of the circumstances that led to the separation.

John Gerguis said Tuesday that he, his wife and the entire staff of Total Health Center had their employment terminated by HMA effective Aug. 6.

In a news release issued Wednesday, East Georgia Regional Medical Center – which is owned by HMA – announced that the Gerguises “submitted their resignations from Statesboro HMA Medical Group LLC, which does business as Total Health Center for Family Medicine,” on Aug. 1 and that the resignations became effective Aug. 6.

While the exact reasons for the split are not clear, what is clear is that there was a disagreement between the physicians and HMA, and that the office at 16741 Georgia Highway 67, Suite A, was closed last week.

Angela Gerguis said Wednesday afternoon that she and her husband, along with physician’s assistant Jennifer Wolfe and the rest of the staff, will reopen in the Optim Orthopedics offices, just across the parking lot from their old location.

The new address is 16915 Highway 67, Suite A, and the staff will be available for appointments beginning at 1 p.m. Friday.

“We are excited to welcome patients to the new location,” she said. “We appreciate the support we have received from our patients and this wonderful community during this transition.”

John Gerguis said Total Health Center entered into a three-year contract with HMA effective Feb. 1, 2011, in which HMA acquired the practice and made it part of its medical operations in Statesboro. The contract was due to expire Feb. 1, 2014.

“Due to differences based on their management practices,” Gerguis said, “Dr. Angela Gerguis and I decided we could no longer operate under those conditions and provide good, safe patient care.”

He said the disagreement “deals with staffing issues and practice management.”

“They did staff reductions against our wishes,” Gerguis said of HMA.

One of the biggest disappointments, Gerguis said, is that, despite mutual consent from the landlord, HMA refused to transfer the office space lease back to him and his wife once the separation took place.

“They have also stated that patient records are the property of HMA and will not allow us access until each individual patient signs a form and requests a records transfer to us,” Gerguis said.

Bob Bigley, CEO of East Georgia Regional Medical Center, expressed disappointment in the way the separation happened.

“We will share that we are disappointed with the decisions of these physicians,” Bigley said in the news release. “Statesboro Medical Group did give the physicians the option to continue employment through the end of the month to provide for a more smooth transition. The physicians elected not to take that option, so we are working as quickly as possible to transition.”

Meanwhile, Gerguis said, he, his wife and their staff have been on the phone with patients, met them in restaurants, coffee shops and even parking lots, and were able to sign forms or complete other actions needed for high-priority medical cases.

He said people who call the office number for Total Health, or who come in to the office, are referred to an HMA-employed physician or, for higher-priority cases, to the hospital’s emergency room.

Bigley said HMA is working with patients during the transitional period.

“Our most significant concern continues to be the ongoing treatment of patients including proper notification and plans for future care,” he said. “To that end, we have provided resources and continue to work to accommodate the practice’s transition in support of our patients.”

The hospital’s news release also noted the Gerguises’ long service, and plans to reopen, in Statesboro.

“Dr. John Gerguis has been seeing patients in the Statesboro area for about 14 years; Dr. Angela Gerguis has been seeing patients in the Statesboro area for about 13 years,” the hospital release says. “The doctors plan to re-open their medical practice in the Statesboro area.”

Both the hospital and John Gerguis said the new practice will rehire the staff who worked for the Gerguises when they were part of HMA. Currently, the Gerguises and their staff are unemployed, though the hospital officially said: “Details regarding the doctors’ employment arrangements are considered confidential between both parties.”

“We do intend to hire our staff” once the new practice opens, John Gerguis said, adding that the practice has eight employees. “Several of them have been with us more than 10 years. They are very loyal to our patients. They go above and beyond – even outside business work hours, my staff have made themselves available for patient care.”

Jason Wermers may be reached at (912) 489-9431.

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