All owners have a right to ask questions

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 28, 2009

If you want proof government should not manage the health care industry, look no further than Natchez, and the beleaguered Natchez Regional Medical Center.

That’s not to say the county-owned hospital is poorly run. But with the thousands of “owners” come thousands of opinions on how things should work.

“Shareholders” — county residents — are quick to judge, question and criticize almost any hospital action.

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Every Tom, Dick and Harriet in the county has the right to question every decision, even seemingly simple management decisions.

NRMC’s management recently opted to seek an outside firm to handle radiology services for the hospital, a service a group of local radiologists previously provided free of charge.

The move was, on its face, a bit baffling, bringing up several obvious questions in the minds of the “owners.”

Why pay for services you’re getting now for free?

Has the hospital attempted to work with the local group to see if the times could be shortened and a compromise reached?

How much will this ultimately cost NRMC?

While the radiology issue is important to a few people, mostly ones involved, most patients could probably care less, so long as patient care was put ahead of all else.

But the issue points to a bigger problem that will continue to rear its head so long as NRMC is owned by county residents — when the public has ownership, no matter how small the interest, they have every right to voice a concern and a criticism.

Eventually, if a buyer can be found, getting the hospital out of public ownership may be the best option. Until then, educating the masses of owners on every move is the management’s only course of action.