Struggling hospital needs our support

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 26, 1999

Sometimes, a spoonful of sugar just won’t help the medicine go down. That’s what Adams County residents are discovering as the sobering reality of operating a public hospital facility continues to be shared with the community.

This week, the Board of Trustees at Natchez Regional Medical Center announced another round of cuts – including 36 budgeted staff positions and the closing of both its level II nursery and its skilled nursing unit – for the upcoming fiscal year.

Trustees have combined those cuts with more limited staffing of the hospital’s operating room to reduce expenses and, ultimately, keep the hospital operating despite big revenue blows dealt by changes in federal reimbursement systems.

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The changes are expected to help the hospital meet its projected $1 million profit for the upcoming year – a margin directors say is &uot;thin&uot; considering the costs of upgrading equipment and other services at the facility.

Without the cuts, trustees say, the hospital would face a loss of up to $1 million.

So that means Adams County taxpayers – some 30 of them – will lose their jobs and, more to the point, residents throughout the county are losing another health care option – whether it be a nursery to handle high risk mothers and infants or a step-down unit that provides intermediate care for patients moving from critical care. And it may not stop with these services. Trustees and administrators say they’ll monitor three additional services – cardiac rehab, physical therapy and hyperbaric medicine – during the upcoming fiscal year.

As unpleasant as the cuts and changes, we must trust that the Board of Trustees sees the cuts as a necessary part of keeping the hospital alive – if not fiscally thriving – for another year.

And we, as a community, must realize that the business of health care will continue to takes its toll on the public facility, and the hospital needs both strong fiscal managers and a healthy dose of community support to offset that toll.