Hospital board to meet with supervisors

Published 12:41 am Tuesday, February 26, 2008

NATCHEZ —When the Natchez Regional Hospital Board of Trustees and the Adams County Board of Supervisors meet today it could be on a slippery legal slope.

The two entities will discuss, among other things, the hospital’s financial situation.

Approximately $7.5 million in uncompensated care has put a financial strain on the hospital.

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Chairman of the hospital board Dan Bland said the money will be a total write off because, aside from costly lawsuits, the hospital has no way to recover the money.

The hospital’s financial state, combined with recent layoffs, has given way to rumors that the hospital may be closing.

Hospital board attorney Walter Brown said much of today’s meeting could be in executive session, which is legal for the hospital, according to the Mississippi Open Meeting Laws.

The Mississippi Center for Freedom of Information’s attorney Leonard Van Slyke said the hospital board may legally enter into a closed meeting without taking the same avenues as other public boards.

But because three or more of the supervisors may be present, the meeting must follow different rules, Van Slyke said.

They must vote to enter executive session so they may continue the meeting within the hospital board’s closed meeting.

The supervisors may enter executive session if they will discuss litigation, business expansion or relocation, or budget items that might affect termination of employees, among other things.

If the board of supervisors were to enter a closed a determination along with the hospital board, before going into executive session, the supervisors would be in violation of the law.

Supervisors President Henry Watts said he did not know if the meeting will be conducted in executive session or not.

The supervisors are required by law to start meetings in open session, then vote to enter executive session.