EDITORIAL: A double boost

North Mississippi Medical Center’s announcement last week of a $55 million construction project is good news on at least two fronts for the region.
First, it will keep the Tupelo hospital at the forefront of patient care by improving facilities that have become dated after nearly five decades.
Second, it will produce 300 construction jobs and other positive economic effects at a time when the local and regional economy can use such a boost.
The project will include construction of a new five-story tower on the west side of the current building, running parallel to South Gloster Street. It will mean the replacement or upgrading of 250 patient rooms.
The plan was developed over a long period and after extensive consultations with community members, hospital users and staff. Construction is expected to begin in the late spring or summer after state approval through the Mississippi Department of Health is secured.
North Mississippi Health Services is the region’s largest employer and North Mississippi Medical Center-Tupelo the largest rural hospital in America. The breadth and quality of its services have been an asset to the quality of life in Northeast Mississippi and in efforts to attract new residents and business investment in Tupelo and the region.
Whatever the outcome of the current national debate on health care, NMMC and its sister institutions and clinics under the NMHS umbrella will likely continue to grow, as will the health care needs of the communities they serve. Keeping facilities up to date and patient- and family-friendly is important to maintaining the medical center’s status as an economic driver in the region.
The hospital’s financial resources and the current financial and construction markets make this an ideal time for the project to proceed.
Earlier in this decade, NMMC re-evaluated its operations and recommitted itself to its long-standing mission after some significant community concerns surfaced in public meetings and among area legislators. From all accounts, efforts by the leadership and staff have made a positive difference since. The Baldrige Award in 2007 – a rare, nationally coveted recognition for quality – was the most visible sign of that response to the community’s expressed expectations.
The building of a new wing for the hospital to better accommodate patient and family needs is both a well-timed and well-considered step toward a strong future for health care in Northeast Mississippi.

NEMS Daily Journal