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Hospital board to suggest firm for feasibility study

NATCHEZ The Natchez Regional Medical Center board of trustees will recommend to county officials next week who they think should determine if the sale of the county-owned hospital is feasible.

The Rev. Leroy White — chairman of the hospital trustees — said the hospital has gotten several inquiries from firms about conducting a feasibility study into the sale since the announcement last week that the county would seek the study. He said the trustees will meet with the Adams County board of supervisors next week to make that recommendation.

While White said the trustees haven’t made a final decision about what firm they will recommend, he said heavy consideration is being given to the Horne Group, the Jackson-based group that completed a similar study for the county in 2008.

The feasibility study is the first legal step necessary in moving forward with the sale or lease of the hospital and has to be conducted by a health care law firm or certified public accountants.

“We will recommend a group to (the supervisors), and they will approve it,” White said. “They are the boss, and we are the little working ants.”

White said he was unsure how much the study would cost, but that he did know it would be in excess of $100,000. NRMC will foot the bill for the study, he said.

“The county doesn’t pay for anything,” he said.

The hospital — which opened in 1960 as Jefferson Davis Memorial Hospital — was built in part with county funds but has operated independently since the 1970s. It still remains a county asset, however, and its trustees are appointed by the Adams County board of supervisors, who have final say in any change of ownership status for the hospital.

After a meeting with the hospital trustees last week, the county supervisors tasked the hospital board with finding a group to conduct the feasibility study.

The trustees cited concerns about the costs and logistics associated with implementing the Affordable Care Act as the reason they asked the supervisors for permission to seek a firm to conduct the study.