By Daniel Brunty
The Choctaw Plaindealer
The Choctaw County Board of Supervisors was presented with management proposals regarding the hospital and nursing home during their May 27 meeting held at the Choctaw County Courthouse.
At its May 20th meeting, the board reviewed presentation of request for proposals (RFP) for a sell or long-term lease of the hospital. These proposals would allow for a healthcare provider to purchase the hospital or enter into a long-term lease with the county. With the supervisors signing confidentiality agreements, which will not allow them to discuss financial issues regarding negotiations, the board heard these presentations in an executive session.
At today’s meeting, the board was on hand to review management proposals, which would allow a healthcare management organization to assist in the running of the hospital and/or nursing home. Upon the recommendation of the Horne Group, the board reviewed four proposals from various healthcare management providers.
With the July 31st deadline of Pioneer terminating its lease with the county approaching, the meeting was again filled with concerned citizens of Choctaw County who were on hand to provide their feedback on the entire process. The first action of the day for the board was to make a motion to amend the agenda for the day to include Evans Johnson and road issues. The motion was unanimously approved, and it was followed by a motion to approve the agenda, which was also approved.
Next, the board began the management proposals. Before any proposals were presented, Board President Chris McIntire informed the management providers that they could not discuss financials because of the confidentiality agreement that was signed by each member of the board, but if they would like to discuss those issues, they would have to call an executive session for that.
The first healthcare management provider to address the board was Sunflower Management out of Ruleville. Representing Sunflower was Jim Blackwood and Joey Bronson. Both Blackwood and Bronson presented the board with facts regarding their organization, as well as their interest in managing both the nursing home and hospital.
The floor was then open to the public for questions. After the Q & A session, the men ended their presentation and thanked the board for their time.
With the next healthcare management provider not present en route to the meeting, the board used that time to take care of other matters on their agenda. During this time the board:
Approved to have the outer perimeter fence at the Airport sprayed for a price ranging between $450-500.
Approved Mark Carruth as a special advisor to the board on matters relating to the airport, as well as to recognize his interest to volunteer to assist in maintaining the grounds of the airport.
The board also discussed the landscaping and roofing issues at the hospital. District 5 Supervisor Eric Chambers stated that the hospital contractor, Evans Johnson, has not held up their end of the contract regarding landscaping and roofing issues, which has been a continually growing problem since the construction of the facility.
Chambers stated that the board should hold Evans Johnson to the specifications of the contract. Chambers also stated he would like to see these things taken care of instead of reaching a settlement with the contractor. No action was taken on the matter.
At that time, the next healthcare management provider arrived at the meeting. The next group to present was Trilogy Healthcare Solutions out of Madison. Representing the organization was Trilogy Managing partner Toby Butler, and partners Todd Lupton and Bill Williams. Butler headed the team’s presentation, giving his reasons the county should give his organization a chance at their business. As with the last presentation, questions from residents were allowed at the end of the presentation.
The next presentation was given by representatives from Noble Healthcare. Here on hand for the group was Noble CEO and International Consultant John Nickens and Vice President of Development Tom Carter. Nickens and Noble gave similar information as the previous groups; however, they informed the board members if they were to provide management for the county, they would possibly be interested in a long-term lease or a purchase of the facilities.
This option sparked interest in the board, with McIntire informing the group that they would like to speak more about that possibility in future discussions. The group then held their question and answer session with residents attending the meeting. The men then exited the meeting.
With the next group arriving at 1 p.m., the board took a lunch recess until that time. Once the meeting resumed, the board members were given the final presentation of the day. Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Rush Health Systems Chuck Reece were on hand representing Rush Health Systems out of Meridian. Also representing the group was Chief Executive Officer of Rush Health Systems Wallace Strickland.
During their presentation, the representatives informed the board that they were very familiar with the healthcare structure that the county has, with it being similar to other small town hospitals they manage. With the structure being similar, they feel that they would be more prepared to take over management. Next were questions and answers from people in the audience.
During the question session, someone asked would Rush be just a “temporary fix” for the county. The representatives at that time informed the board that they were there to help in any way that they can. They also said they understood the board’s situation, that being that time is very limited in regards to making a decision on which way to go with the hospital.
At that time Board president Chris McIntire chimed in. “If we were to go with Rush, and they were to come in and get our numbers up, and bring what they have to bring to the table, such as their resources, they might say they are interested in leasing the facility,” McIntire said. “But for right now we got a short deadline to meet, and for right now the only way I can see us meeting any of this is through a management right now because to go through a lease process, I don’t think we would make the deadline that we got to. I think that we are going to be forced to looking at a management contract.”
With that being said, the representatives of Rush informed the board that if they could take over management of the hospital and nursing home after the departure of Pioneer, this would allow the board more time to possibly look for another healthcare provider to purchase, lease, or manage the facilities long-term.
They also stated that if they were to take over management, and after a period of time had passed, they would be interested in sitting down with the board again to discuss the possibility of entering into a long-term lease or purchase.
After taking a few more questions from residents in the audience, the presentations for the day were concluded. With four management organizations to consider, the board gave all the representatives a tentative date of June 9 to prepare financials proposals for the board to review at that time.
The Choctaw County Board of Supervisors recessed their meeting until May 30.