° empty

Soap opera continues at NRMC

While I agree completely with the comments attributed to Supervisor Mike Lazarus in the Nov. 5 edition of The Natchez Democrat, concerning frugality at NRMC in the event it is not sold, his comments raised a question with me.

Might the supervisors now be questioning whether or not their high priced consultant can deliver on closing the sale this second time around, and be laying the ground work to soften the blow a bit if this sales process fails, as the previous one did?

From the outside looking in, which is all any ordinary citizen can do at this point because we receive no details, it appears that the process of closing a deal with a “Stalking Horse” may be struggling. We were told they hoped to have a deal in place by the middle of October, and now in Nov. 5’s article, NRMC Trustee’s attorney Walter Brown said they hope to have news of a “Stalking Horse” bidder in three weeks, which will be pushing the first of December.

Thanks to Kevin Cooper of The Natchez Democrat, for his several recent editorials on the subject. In particular, the one in Nov. 3’s edition, suggesting the possibility of a less grandiose, more common sense approach than a rushed sale. As he pointed out, the interim CEO who took over when NRMC exited bankruptcy, appeared to have things headed in the right direction. In fact, it was reported that NRMC made money that first year out of bankruptcy. Although Kevin Cooper didn’t say it, I will. That interim CEO was Lana Stamper. I would have much preferred that they remove the interim status from her title, and given her the opportunity to see if she could continue that initial success into a long term plan for NRMC. I am not privy to the details of why that did not happen at that time. But Lana went on to help turn around what was a struggling Riverland Medical Center in Ferriday.

I do not know whether Lana would be interested in stepping back into the mess at NRMC, but I wish that were part of this conversation. Or whether Donnie Rentfro, the current CEO, might be a candidate for the long term at NRMC? Or whether some other person might be a better fit than either of those people? My point is why have those possibilities not been part of this discussion?

Though the supervisors are tight lipped about all things NRMC, I wonder where we stand right now regarding the reported $500,000 cap on fees to be paid to Health Management Partners? If we reach that cap, with the process incomplete, will the process stall? Will the process conveniently end at, or very near that cap? Or, as they do in Washington, will HMP’s “fee ceiling” simply be raised? Stay tuned for the next episode of “As the NRMC Sale Turns”!


Chuck Fields

Adams County