Proposal in the works for new Baptist Memorial Hospital- North Mississippi

A proposal for a new Baptist Memorial Hospital- North Mississippi in Oxford is in the very early stages of discussion according to Oxford Mayor George Patterson and Baptist Memorial Healthcare Corporation.

Baptist Memorial Hospital North Mississippi moved into its current building in the 1980s, but the building itself was built back in the 1960s.  More than $170 million in improvements and additions have been made to the building, according to William Tuttle, Vice President of Planning for Baptist Memorial Healthcare Corporation.

Tuttle said, “As we stepped back and did some long term planning, [we realized] we can’t do much more with the current facility and property.  The building is on 12.5 landlocked acres of land and we’ve maxed out the building area that can be used.  As we look at a 40-50 year horizon, we need to make basic improvements such as bigger patient rooms, energy efficiency, and more diagnostic equipment.”

Currently, the building is owned jointly by Lafayette County and the city of Oxford and is leased by Baptist Memorial Healthcare Corporation, according to Mayor Patterson.  The preliminary discussion occurring is for Baptist Memorial to buy both the county and city’s shares in the building, and then build a new facility in Oxford which Baptist would then own outright.

“With anything there are advantages to ownership, a degree to flexibility of dealing with our future, more land, and greater flexibility to adapt to healthcare changes in the future. It’s the best opportunity to provide healthcare to Oxford and people in the region,” said Tuttle.

Once Baptist, Lafayette County, and Oxford come to an agreement about the sale of the building, the next step would be the approval of a Certificate of Need (CON), according to Tuttle.  This would be a detailed plan outlining the location of a new hospital, its size, equipment, number of beds, etc.

Baptist Memorial anticipates a new hospital in North Mississippi to be a $300 million project, but the exact size, cost, and location will not be decided until Baptist completes more research for the CON.

The outcome Baptist is hoping for, according to Tuttle, is, “A state of the art facility for the people of Oxford and the surrounding area that carries us 40-50 years into the future that really keeps us at the vanguard of healthcare.”  He added, ”physicians and medical personnel tend to gravitate to nice facilities; this will continue to help build the medical staff and personnel in the hospital by attracting them to a state of the art facility.”

Mayor Patterson emphasized that this proposal is in the very early stage of the process, and that a new hospital was not a certainty at this point.  He did say a new Baptist Memorial Hospital, “Might serve the community for several generation, I think you’re looking at a 50-75 year time frame on this.”

As for the current building, neither the city nor Baptist Healthcare Corporation was certain as to what might become of it if a new hospital were to be built.  Tuttle said Baptist Memorial would have to come to an agreement with the Board of Aldermen and the County Board of Supervisors over what would happen to the facility. Patterson corroborated, saying the facility probably wouldn’t be used in conjunction with a new facility in the region.

The County Board of Supervisors was not able to comment at this time on the discussion with Baptist Healthcare Corporation.