LTACH hearing concludes

Published 12:27 am Saturday, March 8, 2008

NATCHEZ — On Friday afternoon, representatives from Natchez Regional Medical Center and Natchez Community Hospital presented final arguments in a hearing that could have far-reaching ramifications for NRMC.

The State Board of Health heard arguments from both sides concerning NRMC’s request for a certificate of need that could ultimately bring a long-term acute care hospital to NRMC.

An LTACH is essentially a hospital within a hospital.

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Natchez Community CEO Tim Trottier requested the CON be denied because he said Promise Specialty Hospital in Ferriday is already meeting the community’s LTACH needs.

State Health Officer Dr. Ed Thompson will ultimately decided if NRMC will be granted a certificate of need.

His decision is expected within 90 days.

If the CON is granted, Regional will be able to open an LTACH.

On Friday, Regional CEO Jeff Wesselman said he felt the three-day hearing went well.

“I think we’re going to win,” he said.

Wesselman said if the hospital is able to develop the LTACH, it would allow for a greater offering of services to the community.

In addition, if the CON goes through, the development of an LTACH would offer help with the hospital’s financial picture, Wesselman said.

LTACH patients receive higher reimbursement rates from Medicare than traditional Medicare patients.

NRMC is currently facing multiple financial problems.

Money from the LTACH would be welcomed in the hospital, Wesselman said.

In August, Regional began work and purchased beds for the LTACH.

Hospital board attorney Walter Brown said the LTACH could be built for approximately $800,000.