NRMC outlook should have clearer view

Published 12:06am Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A few weeks ago, Natchez Regional Medical Center’s CEO publicly suggested the hospital was bleeding cash so fast and was so strapped by its public ownership that it likely would be forced to close within two years.

Last week, the same CEO, Bill Heburn, and members of his staff told the Adams County Board of Supervisors the hospital expects to have a net income for the upcoming fiscal year of approximately $4.5 million.

That’s a miraculous turnaround.

The terminally ill hospital seems to have regained new life, in just a matter of weeks.

Granted, hospital finances are complicated. Anyone who has ever attempted to decipher the lunacy evident on a hospital bill can acknowledge as much.

But still, shouldn’t taxpayers — and their elected representatives — be able to get a straight answer on the state of the hospital?

Remember, taxpayers do, in fact, own the darned thing, though the management sometimes seems to operate as if they hold the title.

The story seems to change with the circumstance.

When the hospital’s administration wants supervisors to sign off on plans to put the hospital up for sale, the dire warnings of impending doom appear. The hospital will close in two years and need $5 million in investment to keep the building’s infrastructure going, they said.

When the hospital wants supervisors to rubberstamp the hospital’s budget for the next year — a requirement since the hospital is publicly owned — things suddenly get rosier.

The public hospital should be able to give straight, believable facts about the hospital’s situation to its public owners.

Why is that so seemingly difficult?