Attorney: Hospital plan should be decided upon in the next 30 days

Published 12:01 am Saturday, March 1, 2008

NATCHEZ —Natchez Regional Hospital’s board attorney Walter Brown said the hospital board and board of supervisors must move “fairly expeditiously” to ensure a future for the hospital.

Brown said a plan for the hospital should be decided upon in the next 30 days.

Depending on the chosen course of action, the hospital board may act without the board of supervisors.

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By the end of the 30-day time period, Brown said the hospital must to start making changes in its operations.

In a four-hour meeting on Friday the hospital board met with two members of the board of supervisors to discuss what form the changes might take.

“We need to implement cost saving measures,” Brown said.

Brown said of those measures most board members, from both boards, do not want to resort to employee layoffs.

A reduction in working hours would be a preferable alternative, Brown said.

Brown said Friday’s meeting gave all involved parties a thorough understanding of all of the hospital’s options.

Brown said he fully intends to go before the board of supervisors Monday to ask for a tax increase that would provide long-term funding to the hospital.

If the tax, in the form of a millage, were to be the decided course of action, it would not go into effect until October.

Brown could ask for up to five mills on Monday.

Adams County Tax Assessor Reynolds Atkins said for an individual owning a house valued at $100,000, five mills would add approximately $50 to their yearly taxes.

Aside from the tax increase, the hospital board will continue to investigate other options, Brown said.

Sale or lease of the hospital, bankruptcy and the hospital’s conversion to a non-profit entity are also being explored, Brown said.

Over the previous week, the hospital’s CEO Jeff Wesselman said he would be open to any option that benefits the hospital.

Supervisor president Henry Watts said he is open to discuss any plan the hospital board brings to the supervisors.