New owner poised to begin major renovations, consolidation
Construction plans have been finalized and Natchez Regional Medical Center needs a final bureaucratic nod before work can begin to bring Natchez’s two hospitals together.
While NRMC’s plans are set on paper, the Mississippi Department of Health Division of Health Facilities Licensure and Certification has to give them the stamp of approval.
“They will look at it and make sure what you are planning to do meets final codes, but they won’t issue that approval until the certificate of need is approved,” NRMC Chief Executive Officer Eric Robinson said. “We have to get the physical certificate (of need) in hand before we can do that.”
Robinson said he has been told the code approval can take up to 30 days, so he expects the hospital will hear from the state during the month of April.
NRMC was granted the necessary certificate of need Thursday. 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 the hospital received Thursday included approval for a total of 34,000-square feet’s worth of renovations including to:
4Optimize Emergency Department treatment areas to accommodate increased patient volumes.
4Add two new labor and delivery rooms, expand the waiting room and modernize post-partum rooms to serve families, including the addition of new patient beds, furniture for visitors and showers.
4Reopen and renovate the fourth floor including all patient rooms, nursing stations and visitor areas. Several rooms will also have new showers as well as equipment to monitor care remotely for cardiac and other patients who require those services.
The certificate allows the hospital to take the necessary steps to re-open its mothballed cardiac catheterization lab. Robinson said the hospital would be working with local cardiologists Vikram Dulam and Brad LeMay as part of the process.
“We have had several conversations with both of them getting the cath lab reopened and seeking their input,” he said. “They will be supporting that diagnostic cath lab.”
New equipment will come with the renovations.
“Since the fourth floor is completely un-operational, it has kind of become a storage are for equipment, so from that perspective it is going to be a new space, and you like to put new things in a new space,” Robinson said.
“When you do these kind of widespread renovations you try not to put old broken down equipment in it.”
Robinson said the construction portion of the project would start all at once.
“The fourth floor is vacant right now, so they will be able to get in there without any interruption or impediments, and the third floor is vacant at the moment because everything (in that department) is being performed at (Natchez Community Hospital),” Robinson said. “The emergency department will have to be done in phases.”
The hospital’s birthing services have all temporarily moved from the third floor at NRMC to Natchez Community Hospital’s campus. Robinson said the blending of the staffs at one facility has served as a good test run for the eventual consolidation at NRMC’s facility.
“It has gone really well, the staff seems like they have gelled pretty well,” he said.
“They are all on board together, it seems like it has been really well. It feels like the plan we put in place to make that happen smoothly has gone smoothly. It is almost a month into it now and we haven’t had any issues.”
The hospital is working to finalize another issue that will have to be closed out in the near future. A government memorandum has frozen the licensure of hospitals with physician ownership, and Natchez Community Hospital has a minority ownership by a group of 10 doctors.
The hospital is in the process of addressing the issue, but Robinson said he could not address the specifics.
Robinson also said the hospital has not decided what it will do with the Natchez Community campus once all of the operations have been moved to NRMC.