Hospital bid may be public Monday

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 2, 2009

NATCHEZ — County supervisors know the identity of the hospital’s top bidder, and it’s great news, Supervisor Mike Lazarus said.

“I think it’s going to be a great deal for the hospital and the entire county,” Lazarus said. “I’m thrilled. It’s better than we thought.”

Natchez Regional Medical Center CEO Scott Phillips said he’ll be at Monday’s Adams County Board of Supervisors meeting to make a formal recommendation as to which bidder is best suited to buy the county’s hospital.

Email newsletter signup

“I’ll review in detail, the status of the sale process,” Phillips said. “And I’ll recommend a course of negotiations with a single buyer.”

Phillips said while he’s still in negotiations with one party, he has divulged the bidder’s identity to the supervisors.

Phillips said he thought it was necessary to make the supervisors aware of the situation.

Phillips did say that he hopes to be able to publicly name that party on Monday, should the supervisors accept his recommendation.

All parties involved are also locked in a confidentiality agreement, Phillips said.

And Lazarus said he can’t see any reason the board won’t take Phillips’ recommendation.

While Phillips said some negotiations are still not complete, he’s also very confident the deal will go through and the county will benefit.

“We’re very pleased with the progress,” he said.

But one aspect of the deal originally outlined in Phillips’ initial plan won’t happen should the sale go though.

He said the bidder has requested the hospital not be made available for auction once the hospital declares bankruptcy.

The hospital is not bankrupt, however, the facility will use bankruptcy as a means to repay its debtors.

Phillips said the fact that the bidder doesn’t want the hospital to be re-opened to bidding speaks to their seriousness as bidders.

And they are serious bidders, Phillips said.

Even though Phillips would not divulge discussed figures, he said, currently proposed purchase prices will satisfy the hospital’s debt.

“It’s going to work out well for the county,” Phillips said.

Hospital board attorney Walter Brown said he was also very pleased by the current bidder and the progress at which the process is moving.

“This started out as a problem, and it’s become a significant opportunity for the county,” Brown said.

Phillips said he hopes to have final purchase agreements circulated and signed by the end of the month.

In mid-November the hospital accepted bids from parties interested in purchasing the facility after the county decided it could no longer operate successfully as a county-owned facility.

Board of Supervisors President Henry Watts did not return phone calls.