Riverland Medical officials ready to receive first portion of study for future plans

Published 12:14 am Saturday, November 1, 2014

FERRIDAYThe Riverland Medical Center Board of Trustees should receive the first of three phases of its feasibility study for the future of the hospital facility next week.

The chairman of Riverland’s board of directors, Jim Graves, said the board got an update on the progress of the study last week.

“It’s going to come to us in three parts,” he said. “It’ll look at the overall payer mix and population, how much business leaves the area from Ferriday to other places and how much business leaves the area from Vidalia to other places.”

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The study will look at Concordia Parish’s population and the hospital’s patient traffic, and how new locations might impact those trends, Graves said.

“It’ll look at where most of your patients would come from and what kind of patients you would expect to get,” he said. “It’ll measure — for example — how much cardiology is going out-of-town, where it is going and what might you offer to keep them here.”

The feasibility study was commissioned in early October to determine what might be the best course of action for improving the aging parish-owned facility.

The 25-bed critical access hospital that offers general surgery opened in 1964, and earlier this year two of the doctors working there approached the board about the study.

“The study might come back and say, ‘You just need to stay where you are and you just need to fix your building,’” Graves said.

“If we are going to build a building, we are going to have to build it in the best place for the folks of the parish.”

As a critical access hospital — a designation given by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — Riverland has no more than 25 inpatient beds, the annual average length of stay for acute care inpatient treatment is no more than 96 hours, it offers 24-hour, 7-day-a-week emergency care and being located in a rural area.

Critical access hospitals are given cost-based reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid, while hospitals that don’t qualify for such — including Natchez Regional Medical Center and Natchez Community Hospital — are reimbursed on standard fixed rates.

The hospital’s 10-year, one-fourth-of-one-percent sales tax, which is expected to generate $660,000 annually for hospital improvements, is on the parishwide ballot tax. The ballot measure is a renewal of an existing tax.

RMC has a budget of $17.1 million for the current fiscal year.