Supervisors, hospital trustees discussing sale, lease of Natchez Regional Medical Center

Published 12:17am Tuesday, July 2, 2013

NATCHEZ — Natchez Regional Medical Center has hired a consulting firm that has worked with the hospital previously in an effort to speed up the sale of the county-owned hospital should the Horne Group recommend it.

The hospital’s board of trustees recommended to the county supervisors in May that — based on market conditions and the costs and logistics of implementing the Affordable Care Act — they seek to explore options that could include the sale or lease of NRMC. The hospital hired the Horne Group last month to conduct the legally required feasibility study to determine if those options are in the best interest of the hospital.

Hospital officials met with the Adams County Board of Supervisors in executive session Monday to discuss how to best move forward with the process.

Those present included the supervisors; hospital trustees the Rev. Leroy White, Dr. Linda Godley and Lee Martin; NRMC Chief Executive Officer Bill Heburn, Chief Financial Officer Charles Mock and Chief Administrative Officer Donny Rentfro.

Scott Phillips with Healthcare Management Partners — a consulting firm brought in for the potential sale — addressed the board during the meeting.

“The consultants (with HMP) are helping with the feasibility study, and they are setting up the groundwork that the hospital will need to do to sell quickly,” county board attorney Scott Slover said.

White said HMP was just brought in this week, and was chosen because of the company’s past associations with the hospital.

Phillips was CEO of NRMC for approximately a year in 2008 when HMP was hired to reorganize the hospital after it ended its management contract with Quorum Health Resources, the company the hospital later sued for mismanagement that NRMC officials alleged led to the hospital’s 2009 bankruptcy.

The lawsuit — which was filed in December 2009 and sought $46 million — was settled in late 2012 for an as-yet undisclosed amount.

With Phillips was Bruce Buchanan, who worked as the hospital’s administrator while NRMC was in bankruptcy. Phillips said he and Buchanan would jointly lead the sales or lease process.

Other HMP personnel present were Clare Moylan and Josh Phillips. Moylan is a chartered financial analyst who will administer the sales process, while Josh Phillips will develop the financial models needed to demonstrate NRMC’s potential value.

Josh Phillips developed the sales model NRMC used in 2008 and performed financial analysis for the lawsuit against QHR.

Scott Phillips also served as the hospital’s key witness in the QHR lawsuit, White said.

“We brought them in because of the time factor,” he said. “They already knew what the situation was from 2008. This is economical having them who already knew the hospital.”

HMP attempted to sell the hospital in 2008 and even had buyers lined up, but the sale never went through. White recently said the 2008 offering failed because the economy went into recession and the potential buyers felt it was too risky at the time.

White said contracts have not been finalized for the consulting work and costs have not yet been determined.