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Doctors express wishes for hospital sale

On the evening of Aug. 27, the Homochitto Valley Medical Society met to see if consensus could be achieved regarding the future of health care in the Natchez region, including Louisiana.

Currently large economic forces are in play involving each of our two hospitals, and the outcome seems to be anyone’s guess. These forces work in private, with little information dispensed to citizens or even the doctors of this area. We met to try to express what we thought would be the best outcome for all of us in terms of health care in this area.

We agreed unanimously on the following:

-The best arrangement for health care would be to have one acute care hospital for this area. Two hospitals divide the resources we have so that neither can be as good as one stellar facility. Recruitment of additional specialist physicians would improve, leading to a higher level of specialty care offerings therefore reducing the perpetual pattern of “out- migration.” By definition out-migration is the flow of local residents seeking specialty care to another service area hospital city such as Vicksburg, McComb, Jackson, Baton Rouge and Alexandria. This reduction in patient outflow would improve the strength of the one local hospital even more and help build this area into a vibrant regional medical center. We are farther from the large competing hospitals in Jackson than either hospital in McComb or Vicksburg, yet each of them has been successful and able to develop advanced services such as cardiac intervention and surgery.

-If practical, we should have a new hospital structure built in Natchez. Both hospitals, for differing reasons, have serious limitations in their physical plants and/or campus size limiting expansion capabilities.

-We are opposed to an arrangement resulting in an outside hospital system taking control of Natchez Regional Medical Center for the purpose of directing or “feeding” people from this area who have certain medical conditions that could just as well be treated locally, to that one hospital system. Such an arrangement would reduce the choice people have in choosing their doctors and such practices would prevent us from developing additional specialty physician practices in Natchez. We oppose any arrangement that would in effect, like a British colony, exist for the purpose of benefiting another area or hospital. With one strong local hospital these specialty services could be developed, as they are not being developed now.

We as physicians are not concerned with who owns or operates a single hospital facility here, only that there is a single hospital here and preferably a new one. Further, we hold that we as practicing physicians in Natchez, dutifully serving this region, are able with the right circumstance to bring in more specialists who will work and live right here as members of this wonderful community.

Unanimously, the Homochitto Valley Medical Society would like this statement to serve as a guide to the parties currently responsible for negotiating what appears to be the imminent sale of Natchez Regional Medical Center and respectfully ask that the above mentioned points serve as a focus on that we feel is best for the health care of all of us — because all of us and our loved ones, sooner or later, will be using this system as patients ourselves.

 

Dr. Roderick Givens is the President of the Homochitto Valley Medical Society.

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