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Board accomplished goal with sale

For the past several years, Natchez Regional Medical Center (formerly Jefferson Davis Memorial Hospital) has been under severe stress.

Changes in the way hospitals and medical services are delivered and intrusion of the Federal Government brought NRMC to the point of insolvency.

It is estimated that 40 percent of all small hospitals in Mississippi are in the same boat.

Before NRMC was built, Natchez was served by a single, small 15 to 16 bed, privately owned hospital, the Natchez Sanitorium.

There was also the old charity hospital with one or two attending physicians.

There were about 12 practicing physicians with two EENT specialists.

News of the 175-bed hospital being built brought some new physicians to town even before it was completed.

Gradually over the years, we rose to be a medical referral center with over 60 physicians and all specialists represented.

In 1965, the Federal Government established Medicare and Medicaid, which caused an explosion in the demand for medical services and hospital beds.

We needed more than our 175 beds, resulting in the 100-bed Natchez Community Hospital being built by a Nashville hospital corporation.

Also, an addition to our medical community was the Riverpark Medical Center. This was built in Vidalia by Natchez physicians because they couldn’t get a certificate of need (CON) in Mississippi.

We now had adequate facilities just in time for the federal government to change the rules.

They began cutting reimbursements to the hospitals and doctors and requiring new expanses to be made.

For example: they required all parties to adopt electronic billing. This costs about $35,000 to $65,000 for a medical office and as high as $3,000,000 for a hospital.

NRMC was forced into bankruptcy by the diminishing payments from the government programs, the increased cost of expensive regulations and the overall failure to pay by patients and their insurers.

Last year, NRMC lost $9,500,000 in uncompensated medical care.

The solution was to sell to a large corporation that could make this a one-hospital town and a prosperous medical community.

The Board of Trustees has been working for years to find the solution that would provide Natchez with a stable, modern hospital with all ancillary services and complete physician coverage.

Despite unwise opposition from some naysayers, I believe they have accomplished that goal.

So, if you see a trustee, thank him or her for all the worry and hard work they have done for us.

 

Bruce Kuehnle is a retired Natchez surgeon.