Hospital should be repurposed

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 11, 2017

News this week that the owners of the former Natchez Community Hospital building may demolish the site should come as no surprise.

Owners said they have entertained some interested buyers, but that none have proven good options and that the high cost of maintaining the building is great.

But we cannot help but wonder if the facility could be used for something rather than simply being torn down.

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The nearly 45-year-old building has certain seen better days.

The merger in 2015 with then Natchez Regional Medical Center to form what is now Merit Health Natchez certainly means the building’s useful life as a hospital is over.

But to simply tear down such a solid structure seems difficult to imagine.

Clearly, even with the protection of Mississippi’s Certificate of Need laws in place, Merit Health Natchez does not want to allow the former hospital facility to become the location of a would-be competitor.

That is understandable.

Seeing a functional building razed seems a waste.

Our region has long needed some kind of mental health facility and a former hospital building would seem a good fit. Unfortunately money for such endeavors seems to be growing smaller by the day with state cutbacks to mental health causes.

If someone in the community can dream up a good cause for repurposing the facility, we hope the building’s owners will keep an open mind about the matter.