By Amanda McBride The Choctaw Plaindealer
Healthcare in Choctaw County has changed in the last couple of years. In less than two years the hospital has been closed by the Mississippi Department of Health to reopening less than a year later and now construction of a new hospital has begun. In that time period, the county owned hospital has changed from Brandywine Health Services to being managed by Pioneer Health Services and now PHS leases the hospital and nursing home. With the help of PHS, two medical clinics have reopened with a doctor at each and a nurse practionicer to help see patients in Ackerman and Weir. Ambulance service in Choctaw County has also improved after Brandywine Health Services stopped scheduling paramedics and drivers to the county hiring MedStat EMS to operate the ambulance service in Choctaw County. With all of these changes, more is to come with the construction of the new hospital and medical office building. Construction should be complete within a year. The timeline shows changes that has taken place from December 2010 to the groundbreaking of the new hospital in January 2012. Hospital Timeline 2009——December The Choctaw County Medical Center was closed by Mississippi Department of Health on December 13because the CCMC or hospital failed to comply with licensure and certification requirements for medical coverage. They also cited that patients were being housed in an unsafe construction zone. At that time, the Board of Supervisors was having a sprinkler system installed. The next day, December 14, Brandywine Health Services voluntarily filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy. 2010——January Supervisors declare medical state of emergency after learning that Brandywine will not operate the ambulance service after January 4. 2010——February Federal bankruptcy judge terminates Brandywine Health Services lease with Choctaw County. The county took back control of the hospital and Choctaw County Nursing Center at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 13. The Board of Supervisors previously approved a one-year management contract with Pioneer Health Services of Magee to manage the Choctaw County Nursing Home and help the county obtain a license to open and operate the Choctaw County Medical Center. 2010——April The Choctaw County Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted a resolution, April 12, committing to build a new hospital that should be completed no later than December 31, 2013. 2010—-October The newly renovated and rejuvenated Choctaw County Hospital reopened Oct. 1 as acute care. After being closed for almost 10 months, the hospital reopened under new management with brand new equipment, an updated and renovated facility and an eager staff waiting to help you. After meeting with the Mississippi Department of Health to find out what exactly needed to be done to reopen the hospital, the supervisors and officials with Pioneer Health Systems immediately went to work updating the current hospital, renovating the old Bounds clinic and creating plans to build a new hospital facility. The current hospital received $600,000 of renovations to meet the MDH requirements and to better serve the community. Some of the biggest renovations were repainting the entire hospital, installing new tile and baseboard throughout the facility and putting new hospital beds and furniture in place. 2010—-November – The Choctaw County Board of Supervisors hired Sean Johnson as administrator after recommendation from Joe McNulty, Pioneer Health Services owner, on Nov. 15. Johnson calls Jackson his hometown, but comes to Choctaw County from Wesley Medical Center, in Hattiesburg, as vice president of physical practices. Johnson has served in healthcare executive roles since 2000. He will serve Choctaw County Hospital as administrator or CEO. Some of his responsibilities will be overseeing the day-to-day operations, recruiting doctors and employees, business development and expense management. — The Choctaw County Medical Clinic opened in the Old Bounds Clinic in downtown Ackerman. Dr. Sidney Prosser immediately began seeing patients at the clinic once it was opened. The 3,500 square foot clinic was completely renovated. All new equipment has been purchased including exam tables, medical equipment for exam rooms, and waiting room furniture. 2011—-January to April —The Physical Therapy Department opened offering physical, occupational and speech therapy needs under one roof. The newly renovated physical therapy department is located at the Choctaw County Hospital. The highly educated and trained physical therapy staff at Choctaw County Physical Therapy also offers inpatient and outpatient therapy needs to nursing home residents, hospital patients and anyone else needing physical, occupational or speech therapy. —The Choctaw County Hospital’s Radiology Department features all brand new equipment by GE including a 16 splice CT scanner, portable X-Ray and soon an ultrasound. The Choctaw County Hospital Radiology Department has contracted with a radiology group based out of Tupelo to read the scans/x-rays and send the results back. —The Swing Bed Program began accepting patients in April. This program is designed to provide skilled nursing and rehabilitative care to patients who are too well for a continued hospital stay but are not quite ready to go home. A staff of RN’s, Physical Therapists, Speech Therapists, Occupational Therapists, a Registered Dietician and an Activities Director assist the patient and its family in obtaining the skills necessary to return to a more normal function. —ER opens on April 1 after becoming certified by the Mississippi Department of Health. The completely renovated ER is located at the rear of the hospital. —Hospital gains Critical Access Status which sets the Choctaw County Hospital apart from other area hospitals. 2011—-June —The Choctaw County Board of Supervisors approved to issue bonds of $13.5 million to build the new hospital and medical office building. On top of the annual bond payments, the board promised to pay no less than $800,000 a year to a hospital bond special reserve fund to help pay off the bonds early. —Also in the June, the board opened bids for a $1 million tax anticipation note to help fund the hospital until Pioneer Health Services lease begins on Sept. 1. They approved and awarded Regions Bank with the lowest interest rate of 2.23 percent fixed rate. 2011—-July —The Choctaw County Hospital opened their new program, the Intensive Outpatient Program, that provides outpatient behavioral health, through Medicare, for those who cannot receive it elsewhere. The IOP provides a place with access to care in a community setting for people suffering from behavioral health issue such as grief or depression. There are many different aspects of the program such as two hour therapy groups, one daily activity group, and one educational group daily about health maintenance or social worker and nurse education. The IOP provides one-on-one individual therapy and group therapy in a comfortable setting. — Weir Medical Clinic opened with Dr. Elizabeth Cole-Lipe seeing patients of any age. She came to Weir after practicing medicine in the Jackson area for five years. The Weir Clinic is located in the old O’Kelly clinic in downtown Weir. The clinic is open Monday-Thursday 8 a.m.-5 p.m., closed from noon-1 p.m. for lunch and Friday 8 a.m.-noon. 2011——October Healthcare in Choctaw County now begins a new journey with Pioneer Health Systems. The new journey began as the PHS lease of the Choctaw County Hospital and Nursing Center began at midnight, October 1. Before October 1, PHS managed the hospital and nursing home for more than a year. The Choctaw County Board of Supervisors and PHS officials worked closely together to renovate and re-open the hospital. Once the lease began, PHS changed the name of the hospital to Pioneer Community Hospital of Choctaw. Services available at Pioneer Community Hospital of Choctaw include a emergency room, respiratory therapy, swing bed program, physical, speech and occupational therapy, radiology department with CT scans, an outpatient behavioral health program and a laboratory that offers drug and alcohol screenings among other testing. The hospital’s website address has changed also. Visit www.pchchoctaw.com to learn more. The medical clinics names have also been changed to Pioneer Family Medical of Choctaw and Pioneer Family Medical of Weir. 2011——December Johnson Construction will soon build the new Choctaw County Hospital and medical office building after the Board of Supervisors approved his bid in their December 5 board meeting. The approval of the bid came after bids were taken in November and were much higher than expected. The supervisors, Pryor & Morrow and PHS officials debated how to fund the hospital over the bond amount then negotiated with Johnson Construction to approve the $12.1 million cost of construction. Before approving Johnson Construction’s bid, the board approved a motion to secure funds to fund the construction of the new hospital and MOB. The motion, by Chambers, “orders the Chancery clerk to hold all current and future funds in fund accounts 125 and 128 and said revenue to be used exclusively for building and equipping of county’s proposed hospital and medical office building which bids are under advisement of this date and time which funds are reasonably expected to exceed $1 million prior to demand of funds of the hospital and medical office building. These funds along with balance of construction funds are adequate for making payments due under the proposed contract.” 2012——January -The Pioneer Community Hospital of Choctaw now has a new administrator, Lauren Williams. She recently began serving as administrator after Sean Johnson accepted the administrator position at Pioneer Community Hospital of Aberdeen. She previously served as associate hospital administrator at PCH- Aberdeen and began working for Pioneer Health Services in December 2010. -The official ground breaking ceremony for construction of the new hospital and medical office building was held January 27 with a reception following at the Choctaw County Community Center in Ackerman. County and state officials met at the new hospital site, at the corner of Highway 9 and Highway 12 in Ackerman, for a short ground breaking ceremony then everyone continued the celebration at the reception. More than 100 people joined the ground breaking celebration at the Choctaw County Community Center where officials thanked everyone involved with the hospital in the past three years. The guest speaker for the ground breaking reception was 1st District Congressman Alan Nunnelee who spoke about the economic impact of the new hospital.