VIDEO: Possible Changes Coming To Local Hospital


STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) — The Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors recently voted three to two in favor of hiring a consultant to help the county select an entity that would conduct a financial assessment of the Oktibbeha County Hospital.

The assessment is required by state law when government-owned hospitals are looking to be sold or leased.

The board hired Frederick Woodrell, a former CEO of University of Mississippi Medical Center, to help lead the search.

Supervisors met with the hospital’s Board of Trustees to discuss the move, and differences in opinions between the two sides created a heated discussion.

Trustees are disappointed the board went through with the hiring without consulting them first, saying that the information that supervisors seek is already supplied on an annual basis.

Supervisors believe hiring an outside consultant will help gain access to more vital information in an objective matter.

“I’m convinced there will be opportunities out there that will be in Oktibbeha county’s best interest…”, said Board President Orlando Trainer, a proponent for the outside consulting firm, “…but before we get to that particular perspective or point, we have to do an assessment. We have to follow the law as it pertains to how you handle hospital dealings and things of that nature.”

Trainer also said the study would not simply be minimum requirements, but the study would be a “strategic options assessment”, which researches all options available for the hospital.

“I think it would irresponsible for us to not look at this component intensely to decide whether its in our best interest to continue go like we’re going, or to consider the possibilities and the potential of what we could possibly have if we look at unique arrangements”, said Trainer.

Hospital leaders criticized Trainer because he has not appointed a trustee to the board.  The Board President said he has received requests from the community to serve on the board, but Trainer, himself, does not have a recommendation.

“I really wanted to bring someone into a situation that is better than the one we currently have…”, Trainer said about adding someone during the current process.

Trainer did say that once the current hospital debate is settled, and if the makeup of the board of trustees remains the same, than he will make a recommendation that supervisors will have to approve.

OCH CEO Richard Hilton said this has been a conversation for the past four years, and that the debate has “affected” the hospital’s ability to recruit physicians.

“We need to know that this matter is going to be resolved whether its to go forward, or for us to stay…”, said Hilton, “…either way, whatever happens in the final end, these trustees will support what the citizens of Oktibbeha County want in regard to this facility.”

Hilton also predicted that selling the hospital to a large entity would “centralize” many services its offers, which would mean a loss of jobs at OCH because they will be sent to another location.

Hilton said the future of the hospital also depends on the type of “player” that would buy the hospital, whether it being a for-profit or non-profit entity.  Hilton said both of those could create problems for the hospital.

Both Hilton and Trainer agreed on the fact that the hospital is in a unique location because of Mississippi State University, and that the selling power of the hospital will remain high because of the university.

Hilton said this project is still in the early stages because of the extensive state guidelines to shopping a hospital.

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