Delta Health System officers and representatives for Northwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center met with the Coahoma County Board of Supervisors Monday to discuss the possible purchase or lease and management of the hospital.
Delta Health System (DHS) in Greenville and Community Health Systems (CHS), current manager of Northwest Regional in Clarksdale met with the county board in executive session for about 15-minutes Monday.
Coahoma County holds the lease on Northwest Regional with CHS.
“This was our first joint meeting with them (DHS) and CHS,” said Board of Supervisors President Johnny Newson. “We were told they have been talking for about eight months.”
Newson said DHS and CHS discussed the county’s lease. Newson was hesitant to discuss more.
“To be honest, I don’t know enough about this deal to comment at this time,” said Newson. “We are not going to jump into anything. We have not been presented any paperwork, any plan or a proposal.”
After DHS and CHS representative left, the board continued in executive session to discuss the meeting and their next move.
No vote was taken Monday.
CHS took over management of Northwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center from Curae in May 2019. Curae had declared bankruptcy in August 2018 with hospitals in Clarksdale, Amory and Batesville directly affected. The Amory hospital was sold to North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo and the Batesville hospital was sold to a group of local investors.
The Coahoma County Board of Supervisors issued a statement in November 2018 saying they planned “to continue operations at Northwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center with the ultimate goal of identifying a new buyer for the hospital.”
Supervisors and many in the community have pointed to the county’s lease as a factor in keeping the local hospital open during that time.
Coahoma County signed an agreement with Trilogy Healthcare Solutions, a consultant firm specializing in attracting and retaining doctors and healthcare professionals in June 2019. Trilogy, of Ridgeland, was brought into the mix to walk the county through a new working agreement with CHS or to transition the county and CHS in going separate ways.
Newson said Monday that Trilogy would now meet with the county and offer their opinion on details of the lease and possible sale.
The county had a Hospital Trust Fund of approximately $30 million from the sale of the facility several years ago and that fund has dropped to roughly $26 million. The county took $3 million to meet payroll while the hospital was in bankruptcy. Those funds are earmarked and must be spent in specific ways related to local healthcare.
The Hospital Trust Fund is serviced in part by the county’s lease of the hospital.
Community Health Systems
Community Health Systems, Inc. is one of the nation’s leading operators of general acute care hospitals. The organization’s affiliates own, operate or lease 106 hospitals in 18 states with approximately 17,000 licensed beds.
CHS officials met with supervisors in February to request the county address five projects or plans for the hospital.
Changes to the lease requested by CHS are:
• Removing the glass solarium along the front of the hospital.
• Moving the Hicks Healthcare trailer off property behind the hospital.
• Giving the 3,000 square-foot nursing school back to the county.
• Giving 12.1 acres of land on Ohio Avenue back to the county.
• Tear down and remove the Flowers Wing.
CHS said the buildings and property named are older and in need of repairs they don’t see as feasible.
Delta Health System
Delta Health System already has a presence in Clarksdale with Dr. Mtanius Sultani and Clarksdale Cancer Center.
DHS administers nine clinics or locations and its hospital has approximately 325 beds. They serve seven counties in Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana. DHS has experienced growth and name changes throughout the last 57 years. Originally called the Washington County General Hospital the hospital most recently changed its name earlier this month from Delta Regional Medical Center to Delta Health System.
Trilogy’s report to supervisors in October 2019 said the current 181-bed hospital in Clarksdale was built in 1952 and much of the infrastructure to the sprawling facility is in need of repair. The report also suggested the hospital footprint be reduced to about 50 beds.
The report said the hospital sees roughly 24,000 people annually through its emergency room and it acts as “the front door” for the hospital.
Northwest Regional is currently a Level 4 Trauma Center meaning they can handle most emergencies and can perform surgery to stabilize patients before sending them to a Level 5 Trauma Center – the medical professions highest level of care.
Northwest Regional is also a primary stroke center and routinely offers a better outcome for patients who have had a stroke. The hospital is also an accredited chest pain center.
The hospital has a Labor and Delivery Suite, which includes two labor and delivery rooms, five regular labor rooms, two delivery Rooms and a 23-bassinet newborn and intensive care nursery. Northwest Regional saw over 700 births last year or about two a day.