Baptist: Oxford needs new medical center

OXFORD – The healthcare network that operates Oxford’s only hospital says the city needs a new, larger facility.
Don Hudson, hospital administrator and CEO of Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi, confirmed that assertion after officials from Oxford, Lafayette County and the Memphis-based Baptist system met behind closed doors for an hour Monday morning.
“Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation has made a proposal to the city and the county to build a $200 million hospital on 90 acres just south of town,” he said. “We fully realize that to go forward to provide the most up-to-date healthcare facility, we’re going to need to expand beyond our current 13-acre site.”
Oxford and Lafayette County jointly own the 217-bed acute care hospital, which was originally built in 1960, and have leased it to Baptist since 1989. During that time Baptist has invested some $160 million in additions, renovations and other improvements and has tripled the size of the medical staff.
The current campus is landlocked at the corner of Belk and South Lamar Boulevards. Hudson said Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation has an option for the proposed 90-acre property.
Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi is a regional referral center that draws patients from 12 counties of North Mississippi. The new site would provide space for expansion well into the future and would also ease traffic problems on the two-lane streets leading to the current hospital.
“Any site under consideration would have to offer good access,” Hudson said.
Negotiations about the proposal will cover countless details and involve three entities that have often butted heads, so officials would not estimate when an agreement might be completed. Hudson said, however, that from the completion of negotiations to move-in at the new facility would take an estimated five years.
Lafayette County Board of Supervisors President Lloyd Oliphant was enthusiastic about the proposal in terms of both healthcare and economic development.
“I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for our county,” he said. “My personal thoughts are that I’m looking at something that will be there for my grandchildren’s lifetimes.
“It’s obviously going to bring new physicians to town, new homes, new purchases,” Oliphant added. “Every additional room in the new facility carries with it an obvious increased number of personnel to operate the hospital.”
Contact Daily Journal Oxford Bureau reporter Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or errol.castens@djournal.com. Read his blog at NEMS360.com.

Errol Castens