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Get the facts straight on NRMC deal

I read with great interest, the article in the Friday, July 19, edition of The Natchez Democrat titled “County to hear results,” wherein it was stated that that supervisors will hear from the Horne Group, about the results of the feasibility study done to determine whether the hospital should be sold or leased.

The article also stated that the supervisors had entered into a contract with Healthcare Management Partners, that could cost the County up to $500,000 to “solicit and analyze proposals for the sale or lease” of NRMC. I guess the results of the feasibility study were a foregone conclusion!

HMP’s contract will be on an hourly basis, with a minimum of $300,000 and a cap of $500,000 in fees. Supervisor David Carter voted against the contract, because HMP was hired in 2008 to sell the hospital and was unsuccessful in that endeavor.

“I don’t think we need to drop another half-million dollars on (HMP), I think we need someone else.”

Thanks to Mr. Carter for his no vote, and his sensible comment.

The article also stated “Hospital officials have recently stated that the sale in 2008 did not go through even though the hospital had potential buyers – none of which were identified — because the economy soured.”

HELLOOO!!!! Is anyone listening? One of those potential buyers was named, and the company’s name was Essent Healthcare. Essent was the potential buyer about whom we were told by Mr. Scott Phillips of HMP, that negotiations were so close to a deal, that the supervisors “were on stand-by” to come in and sign off on the paperwork.

One article in The Natchez Democrat said that supervisors had been made aware of all of the details of the pending deal. Comments lauded how great it would be for the community.

Then suddenly, when the deal fell through, and Essent Healthcare was contacted by a reporter from The Natchez Democrat, Essent CEO Mike Browder acknowledged his company had “robust investigatory conversations” about buying local hospitals. He also said “No deal was imminent,” that neither he, nor his team had been to Natchez in relation to the purchase of Regional or Community, and that talks “had not yet progressed to include the actual sale price of either hospital.”

All of this after we had been told by Mr. Phillips in a Dec. 16, 2008, article in The Natchez Democrat that “We’re close to a deal,” and later in a Jan. 6, 2009, article in The Natchez Democrat wherein Mr. Phillips was expressing his confidence that the deal would be finalized, said “It’s imminent.”

The real truth is that no deal was imminent, and that as reported in the March 14, 2009, article in The Natchez Democrat the deal with Essent Healthcare, had never remotely reached being a serious proposal.

Come on people; let’s get the facts straight.

I know we seem to now be in a pedal to the metal hurry to sell NRMC, but do you really want to hire the same folks who, to put it politely, misled us into believing the prior sale was imminent? Do you want another process shrouded in secrecy, with all of the details kept secret? Even though every bidder that submits a bid on a public property knows full well their name and the fact that they submitted a bid will be made public, the prior process conducted by HMP kept us all completely in the dark. That is, until the whole thing fell through, and they had to come clean.

Unlike former President George W. Bush, I can remember the old saying that goes fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.

Apparently, some of our local elected officials, as well as some very well-meaning appointed NRMC Trustees, not to mention some lawyers, can and will be fooled again!


Chuck Fields is an Adams County resident.