Originally created 10/18/01

College receives funding



It was a heavy check but it lent an air of levity Wednesday to the meeting of MCG Health Inc.'s board of directors.

"This doesn't look real, Don," Medical College of Georgia President Daniel W. Rahn said jokingly as he looked at a 2-foot-by-4-foot check held by MCG Health CEO Don Snell.

"That amount of money doesn't look real," added MCG Health board Chairman Donald Leebern.

The fake check showed $8,896,079.60 - the school's 40 percent allocation, with interest, from MCG Health, which amassed a $21.8 million margin in its first year of operating the hospital and clinics. A much smaller real check accompanied it and was put into the bank.

The money likely will be used in a number of ways, from helping to recruit new researchers and faculty members to equipment to other enhancements. Officials from MCG, MCG Health, and Physicians Practice Group, which handles billing and benefits for the school's providers, will hold a strategic planning retreat in a couple of weeks to come up with a unified vision for the future. The money will likely be spent several times over, Dr. Rahn said.

"I expect our strategic planning process is going to result in a list of needs that far outstrips" that money, he said.

The amount will likely change from year to year, so the school does not want to put it toward items that will come up year after year, such as salaries, Dr. Rahn said. It could aid the school's efforts, though, to help Augusta land one of the top-tier cancer centers envisioned in the $1 billion Georgia Cancer Coalition, Dr. Rahn said.

The combined planning also allows the different aspects of MCG and MCG Health to help one another, Mr. Snell said.

"The clinical plan and the research plan have the same focus," he said, emphasizing cancer care and neuroscience in the near future. MCG Health has set aside $3.6 million for a cancer initiative that would coincide with the school's and with Augusta's push.

MCG's finances continued to be good in the first quarter of this fiscal year because of high volumes of patients in most areas except for sports medicine, Mr. Snell said.

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or tomc@augustachronicle.com.