Riverland Medical Center feasibility study to be completed soon

Published 12:04 am Tuesday, November 11, 2014

FERRIDAY — Officials with Riverland Medical Center said they hope the complete feasibility study for the parish-owned hospital’s future will be complete by the end of the month.

RMC’s board chairman, Jim Graves, said in late October the hospital board hoped to have the first of three parts of the study in their hands by last week.

But Riverland Administrator Billy Rucker said Monday the work of the study, being completed by the LaBorde Group of Metairie, is still under way.

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Rucker said he hopes to receive an early draft by the end of this week with the completed study coming at the close of November.

“They still have a lot of financials to do,” he said. “They won’t have the final answer when they give us the draft, but they will be making sure we have got all the correct financials. They are making sure we get all of our Is dotted and Ts crossed.”

The RMC board initiated the feasibility study after two of its physicians approached the administration about the aging hospital’s future in August. The Ferriday structure is 50 years old.

The study is slated to study the outflow of medical migration from the area, if the hospital needs to simply be upgraded or replaced altogether and how different possible locations might affect the parish health community.

Rucker said he has heard some comment from the community about the study since it was initiated.

“You hear pros and cons from people, and that is expected, but our board wants to make the best decision for what is going to make the best economic impact not only for this facility here, but for anywhere,” he said. “We are trying to make the right decision and are taking our time doing it, trying not to get into a rush.”

RMC opened in 1964 as Concordia Parish Hospital.

The renewal of the hospital’s 10-year, one-fourth-of-one-percent sales tax, which is expected to generate $660,000 annually for hospital improvements, was on the Nov. 4 ballot. The measure passed with approximately 56 percent of the vote.

“I am extremely thankful to the people of the parish for their continued support for good health care in the Miss-Lou,” Rucker said. “The sales tax was instituted in 1963 when the doors opened, and (voters) have continued to back us since then.”

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.

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