Natchez Regional is poised to build surgery center

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 30, 2001

NATCHEZ – A new full-service outpatient surgery center is on the drawing board for Natchez Regional Medical Center and could be constructed as early as next year.

&uot;The board of trustees has endorsed this conceptually, but we don’t have all the figures in place for the final approval,&uot; said Jack Houghton, hospital administrator. &uot;But this could materialize in 2002.&uot;

The design calls for extensive use of infrastructure already in place and therefore will enable the facility to be built at minimum expense, Houghton said.

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&uot;We won’t have to put a roof over it; we have all the electrical and other utilities to tie into. Everything is available, right there to use,&uot; he said, as he pointed out the architectural drawing of the facility.

&uot;The center will be self-contained, with the business office and waiting area. The patient can come into the center without going into the hospital.&uot;

The plan calls for using the front of the hospital now used as a drive-through by patients and visitors.

&uot;This will put it directly under the surgery department,&uot; Houghton said. &uot;There will be 10 private rooms and three minor procedure rooms. Patients will be able to go right up the elevator and directly to surgery and back down again.&uot;

Patients will enter on the south side of the facility into a waiting area where the nurse station will be located. Private recovery rooms will be located along the east wall and west wall.

Other changes in the front of the hospital will adapt to the new facility, including an extension of the handicap ramp leading into the main entrance of the hospital and a larger waiting area inside the north entrance.

&uot;We will be able to do all the construction at a cost within the range of $500,000,&uot; Houghton said.

&uot;It is very doable in a short period of time and the concept saves a tremendous amount of money.&uot;

The next step is to show the plan to the Adams County Board of Supervisors, he said. Natchez Regional is a county-owned hospital.

Billy Gillon, chairman of the Natchez Regional Board of Trustees, said the outpatient facility has been in the works but on hold for a long time.

&uot;One of the things that makes it all come together is the new office building.&uot;

The doctors building, which will be constructed on the south side of the hospital in an area behind the present 1960s-era Medical Arts Building, also should be under way in 2002.

That building, a cooperative effort between the hospital and doctors who will occupy it, will provide covered walkways for patients and for doctors between the office building and the hospital.

&uot;That is going to be a great convenience for the doctors and for the patients,&uot; Gillon said.

Natchez Regional was able to proceed with the outpatient surgery center without application for a certificate of need by using its designated number of surgery beds, he said.

&uot;We looked at the number of surgery beds we had, and our license carries us with a sufficient number to equip the outpatient center,&uot; Gillon said.

&uot;This has been in the making for more than a year. We had to improve the census at the hospital and have more activity before we could go forward with it.&uot;

Natchez Regional had its first profit year in four years, Houghton said. The fiscal year ended Sept. 30. &uot;The light at the end of the tunnel is not a locomotive coming our way,&uot; he said. &uot;We’ve made a dramatic step forward in the financial viability of this hospital.&uot;

Gillon said the new outpatient surgery center fits into plans to keep Natchez Regional growing.

&uot;It will enhance all the activities we have going at the hospital.&uot;

Houghton said Natchez Regional has taken an aggressive approach to health care service and wants to provide the community all services possible.

&uot;Status quo is not a part of our vocabulary,&uot; Houghton said. &uot;We are in a growing mode. We’re looking for new ways to serve this community.