Curious NRMC silence has returned

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 1, 2009

In the very first letter that I wrote concerning the proposed sale of NRMC, I questioned the curious silence plaguing us over the information about the bids that had been received being withheld from the public. That curious silence has now returned and seemingly engulfed every facet of the ongoing operations of NRMC.

When the sale of NRMC fell through, there appeared to be an obvious attempt to shift the focus away from the collapse of the sale and place the focus on the shortage of doctors in the area. Indeed, I believe I saw more than one editorial lamenting our desperate need to try to attract additional doctors to the area to address our ongoing healthcare emergency.

The only real news concerning the collapse of the NRMC sale appeared in the March 14, edition of The Natchez Democrat under the title “Deal wasn’t solid,” with the sub-heading of “Plans to buy hospital not as far along as some believed.” Hospital board members Bernie Pyron and Dan Bland expressed that they thought negotiations were further along.

Email newsletter signup

CEO Scott Phillips indicated that it was possible that he also thought the sale process had progressed further than it had since most negotiations took place between Essent/Oschner and HMA. Essent’s CEO said that his company’s talks had not yet progressed to include the actual sale price of either hospital, and no member of his team had visited Natchez in relation to the sale of NRMC.

May I remind everyone that more than two months prior to the collapse of the sale, and the release of “The deal wasn’t solid” article, in the Jan. 6 edition of The Democrat, we were told that the supervisors knew full details. Supervisor Henry Watts, in describing the unknown at that time bidder, said, “They’re capable, qualified and motivated.”

The article also stated that while Phillips did not have a timeline for the deal to be finalized, he said he has confidence that it will. “It’s eminent,” he said. “We’re just waiting.” He said once the final details of the contract were completed he would be ready to quickly assemble the board for a vote. “They’re on standby” he said. That seems an amazing exaggeration, given what we know now!

In my last letter on this subject, I asked a number of direct questions that remain un-answered, as to the way forward from here. This time I’ll make it easy, and close with a brief comment and only one question, directed to the members of the board of supervisors and the board of trustees of NRMC.

The comment is simply that the path that Scott Phillips has led us all down has resulted in the members of both your boards looking rather, to put it kindly, foolish.

The question is simply, how long will you continue to reward, to the tune of $100,000 per month to him or his company, the leadership that has made you all look, to again put it kindly, foolish?

Chuck Fields

Natchez resident