County takes first step to sell hospital
NATCHEZ — They aren’t quite hanging a “for sale” sign in front of Natchez Regional Medical Center just yet, but Thursday the Adams County Board of Supervisors decided to take what could be the first step toward that.
The supervisors met with the NRMC board of trustees Thursday evening to discuss the potential of selling or leasing the county-owned hospital.
Most of the meeting was in closed session, but after the discussion the supervisors announced they would — on the recommendation of the hospital trustees — advertise for a group to complete a feasibility study to determine if the hospital should be sold, leased or if nothing should change.
Hospital Board Chair the Rev. Leroy White said the recommendation was prompted by market conditions and the costs and logistics of the impending implementation of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.
“We are not going to be able to stand alone, we are going to need partners to survive,” White said. “If we wait any longer, we will be in trouble. We all want unite for the best health care for Adams County and make sure we have some survivability for a long period of time rather than a short period of time.”
The board will seek proposals from a health care law firm or a certified public accounting firm for the feasibility study, and once that study is completed the supervisors will determine if they should take the next step and advertise for proposals for the sale or lease of the hospital.
Supervisors President Darryl Grennell said the board would not make a determination if it should sell or lease the hospital — or if anything is to be done — until after the study is completed, and that while some parties may have made overtures about buying or leasing the hospital, such a decision would be premature at this time.
“There is no reason to make a decision on one or the other until we do a feasibility and request for proposals,” supervisors board attorney Scott Slover said. “This is a slow, methodical process, and it can’t just be based on these minds alone to make a decision that will affect health care for (the duration of) everyone who is sitting at this table’s lifetime.
“Based on the general environment and the market we are in, all indications are that some partnership with somebody is needed, but we need to confirm that with a feasibility study.”
It’s also possible the supervisors could reject the feasibility study and request another one, Grennell said.
Once the feasibility study is completed and is presented to the supervisors, it will become public record, and if the supervisors decide to solicit proposals for the sale of the hospital, mandatory public hearings will follow.
White said the hospital would start seeking a group to complete the feasibility study right away.
The hospital had a similar study completed in 2008 and had solicited several bids. Brown said Thursday all of the potential buyers backed out in November 2008 because of the volatile economic conditions of the time.
NRMC has approximately 300 full-time and approximately 100 part-time employees.