Starkville Daily News - - FO­RUM -

“There­fore the board of su­per­vi­sors has taken a proac­tive ap­proach to try to be ag­gres­sive and of­fen­sive in­stead of be­ing de­fen­sive and wait­ing on cer­tain things to hap­pen,” Trainer said.

Trainer said the board took it upon them­selves to look at the “longterm in­ter­est” and “longterm op­por­tu­nity” of health care in Ok­tibbeha County.

In Hil­ton’s open­ing state­ment, he stressed he is ready to bring clar­ity to ques­tions in the com­mu­nity and the board of trus­tees and staff are op­posed to the sale of the hos­pi­tal.

Hil­ton said keep­ing the hos­pi­tal lo­cally owned al­lows the fi­nal de­ci­sions of health­care to be made within the county and hav­ing lo­cal

own­er­ship will as­sure the needs of the com­mu­nity.

Hil­ton em­pha­sized OCH has an an­nual eco­nomic im­pact of $127 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to the Kaiser Foun­da­tion and spends about $7 mil­lion lo­cally each year on goods and ser­vices.

When look­ing to sell the hos­pi­tal, Trainer said res­i­dents need to look at the fi­nan­cial per­for­mance per­spec­tive.

Trainer said it’s ob­vi­ous OCH needs a part­ner ac­cord­ing to the as­sess­ments the board has done, which iden­tify short­falls.

“If we con­tinue to hold on to OCH we are ac­tu­ally lim­it­ing it be­cause the county has limited re­sources,” Trainer said. “We need to try and find a part­ner who has more re­sources to bring to the ta­ble.”

Hil­ton said sell­ing the hos­pi­tal would only make sense when an en­tity

is in a bank­ruptcy po­si­tion.

“OCH is nowhere near a bank­ruptcy po­si­tion,” Hil­ton said.

One of the ques­tions con­cern­ing those at­tend­ing was lay­offs at OCH. One ques­tion in par­tic­u­lar asked if OCH is plan­ning for lay­offs of cur­rent physi­cians or staff.

Hil­ton said OCH has not de­vel­oped an im­me­di­ate plan for lay­offs of cur­rent physi­cian or staff.

“Re­cruited physi­cians seek­ing full-time prac­tice op­por­tu­nity af­ter res­i­dency train­ing rou­tinely want to be em­ployed,” Hil­ton said. “Em­ploy­ing physi­cians will have to be an op­tion pro­vided.”

Trainer said there is not a con­tract in­volved since the board is only at the pro­posal stage. Trainer said when it comes to pro­tect­ing jobs, each re­spon­der has sub­mit­ted “rea­son­able” and “ap­pro­pri­ate” re­sponses when it comes to em­ploy­ment of

staff and po­si­tions.

Trainer said be­cause the agree­ments can’t be fi­nal un­til af­ter the vote, some of the in­for­ma­tion has not been re­ceived, but he said once the vot­ers take to the polls, the board can “hash out” those par­tic­u­lars in the con­tracts.

“They have a plan and made a com­mit­ment that they are go­ing to re­tain ex­ist­ing em­ploy­ees and they are go­ing to pro­mote re­ten­tion and sta­bil­ity,” Trainer said. “We are not try­ing to do any­thing that will do the hos­pi­tal a dis­ser­vice.”

Res­i­dent Bob Kirk­land said he at­tended the fo­rum to help an­swer some of the ques­tions he had on the topic. He said many of the an­swers the au­di­ence re­ceived from the Board of Su­per­vi­sors were vague.

“I don’t feel like I have enough true facts and in­for­ma­tion to sell

(the hos­pi­tal),” Kirk­land said.

Dr. Will Carter, di­rec­tor of Anes­the­sia at OCH Re­gional Med­i­cal Cen­ter, at­tended the fo­rum and said the hos­pi­tal came with good ev­i­dence-based an­swers and a plan of what is go­ing to hap­pen, while the board left him with more ques­tions than an­swers.

“The su­per­vi­sors re­ally just had a bunch of am­bigu­ous prom­ises,” Carter said. “A lot of vague prom­ises and ideas and re­ally no sub­stan­tial plan for what’s go­ing to hap­pen with the hos­pi­tal if we sell it.”

Carter said loss of jobs is a con­cern among those work­ing within the hos­pi­tal and hear­ing about the in­for­ma­tion about merg­ing and cen­tral­iz­ing ser­vices only fur­ther pushed his con­cern.

“That’s def­i­nitely an ex­pected con­se­quence of sell­ing the hos­pi­tal,” Carter said.

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