Baptist Health Care marks 20 years in Oxford

OXFORD – Baptist Memorial Health Care Corp. celebrated 20 years and plans for many more in Oxford on Thursday.
The hospital opened in 1963 as Oxford-Lafayette County Hospital under local governance. Baptist, a Memphis-based health care system now operating 15 hospitals in three states, leased its operation from the city and county in 1989 and renamed it Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi.
Baptist officials in August won support from city and county officials to consider a new facility. The possibilities announced have included a $200 million new construction on a site on Highway 7 South and a BMHCC purchase of the current site.
Baptist also may build its proposed new facility on land across State Highway 6 from the University of Mississippi’s main campus.
“We have been invited by the university research foundation to consider a long-term lease for a piece of property adjacent to the research park,” Don Hutson, administrator for the Oxford hospital, said Thursday. “That would be considered as an option just as we have the option to purchase this area here.”
Officials from both the nonprofit health care system and the city on Thursday echoed their enthusiasm for a new hospital.
“As we are standing here today, we are on the very verge of delivering new facilities, a new way to deliver care in Oxford and the entire region. This is one of the most exciting times in our history,” said BMHCC President Stephen Reynolds. “We are planning and planting for the future.”
Mayor George “Pat” Patterson projected forward a few years to the end of his and the aldermen’s current term.
“Simply look where we were in 1989, and see where health care in our community is today,” he said. “The future seems even brighter.”
Baptist doubled the size of the original hospital in 1992, opened a 15,000-square-foot fitness center in 2000, built a 42,000-square-foot cancer care and diagnostics center in 2002, then added another 100,000 square feet to the main building in 2003. The hospital currently has a 217-bed capacity and was named the state’s top hospital for cardiac surgery and the top 10 percent nationally in both orthopedic and cardiac surgery.
Hutson noted that more than 60 employees, volunteers and associated physicians have been at the hospital throughout Baptist’s tenure in Oxford.
“Health care is not about bricks and mortar and facilities,” Hutson said. “It’s about reaching out and touching people and making that connection.”

Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal