Hospital plans need to be approved by state

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Plans to modernize Natchez’s primary health care facility will soon be in the hands of state regulators.

Natchez Regional Medical Center’s new owner, Community Health Systems, has plans to merge the facility with Natchez Community Hospital and renovate and expand the aged NRMC campus.

But that process requires state approval since Mississippi requires large capital projects to be granted a certificate of need (CON) by the Mississippi State Department of Health.

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The CON system on its surface prevents crazy hospital one-upsmanships by mandating projects be reviewed and approved by the state.

We could debate whether the CON system actually works and is still useful at another time — we think that it mostly doesn’t work well anymore.

But for now, Natchez needs the state to approve the plans so the renovations can go smoothly, the shuttered NRMC heart catheterization lab can be reopened and Natchez’s health care needs can be focused more on improving patient care than on trying to out maneuver the competing hospital.

Community Health Systems aims to invest heavily in Natchez’s facility so for the community’s sake — and its health — we need the planned work to be quickly approved and green-lighted by the state.