Hospital seeks to merge; Consolidation of NRMC, Community Hospital sought

Published 12:12 am Saturday, December 6, 2014

NATCHEZ — Natchez’s hospitals have applied to the state for permission to start the necessary significant construction needed to consolidate Natchez Regional Medical Center and Natchez Community Hospital into a single facility.

Filing under the name Natchez Hospital Company, the company applied to the Mississippi Department of Health for certificates of need to reopen the cardiac catheterization lab at NRMC significant renovations and expansions of NRMC’s emergency room, labor and delivery suites and fourth floor patient areas.

“As we indicated earlier this fall when the hospital transaction was completed, we are able to move forward with certain renovation projects at NRMC, but other efforts require state approval,” NRMC and Natchez Community Chief Executive Officer Eric Robinson said.

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“We are delighted to move forward in this process with the state, and look forward to introducing these new or expanded services to patients in the Natchez area if and when they are approved.”

The two hospitals are owned by the same parent company following the Oct. 1 sale of NRMC to Community Health Systems, which had owned Natchez Community for a little more than a year at that time.

The company announced its plans to consolidate the facilities into a single campus at the NRMC site when the sale closed.

The renovations are necessary for the hospital to handle the patient volume of the consolidated hospital.

Certificates of need are a state mandated process intended to restrain health care costs and allow coordinated planning of new services and construction while reducing duplication of services.

The certificate of need process requires a 30-day notice of intent to apply, and once the application is received, a 30-day comment period begins.

Forty-five days after the application is received by the Mississippi State Department of Health, the MSDH’s analysis — including a recommendation to approve or disapprove the application — is published, which is followed by a 90-day review period.

But 65 days after the application is received, the applicant can request or waive a hearing.

After the hearing — or if the hearing is waived — the application is forwarded to the State Health Officer to be placed on the next monthly certificate of need meeting.

The decision of the MSDH can be appealed in the Chancery Court within 20 days of its issuance.