By Josh Troy
Coahoma County is now operating its own hospital as of May 1st. In April, the Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed to accept a buyout offer from Delta Health System of Greenville for Northwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center, and the agreement took effect at the beginning of May.
The Supervisors also unanimously approved allocating $500,000 from the Hospital Reserve Fund on April 21st and an additional $2 million on April 28th. This approval came during a special called meeting on April 21st, which was called to ensure that the hospital would be able to meet payroll by May 1st.
It is expected to take approximately three and a half years and $15 million to assist the hospital in becoming self-sufficient. During the April 21st meeting, Ted Connell, attorney for Crossroads Economic Partnership, spoke about the effort to obtain a Critical Access Hospital (CAH) designation for the Northwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center. Connell explained that he and Northwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center Board Chair Bowen Flowers went to Washington, D.C. to pursue the designation. The CAH program is a United States federal program established in 1997 that aims to provide small hospitals in rural areas with emergency care.
However, Connell stated that the hospitals in Helena-West Helena, Ark., and Marks have CAH designations and are less than 35 miles from Clarksdale, making the Northwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center ineligible for CAH status. Despite this, Connell and others are working with US Sen. Roger Wicker, US Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, and US Rep. Bennie Thompson to obtain an exemption. Connell said, “We need that designation to assist us with keeping our hospital open and going.”
Connell also discussed the transition process for Coahoma County taking over its own hospital. Dan Givens is the chief financial officer of the transition team, and Jason McCormick is the chief executive officer of the transition team. Connell stated, “They’re very clear; we’re here to help you transition to your permanent team.” The goal is for the hospital to have a full team of employees at the end of a 90-day transitional period.
Lastly, during the discussion, Board of Supervisors President Johnny Newson, who represents District 4, mentioned that many employees are still working from home. Connell added that employees nowadays want the option of working somewhat remotely, but only some positions will allow this.