By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation announced plans Tuesday to build its new Oxford hospital on a 160-acre tract just west of the existing hospital.
The announcement came in a meeting with the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors and the Oxford Board of Aldermen, whose sale of the current hospital to the Memphis-based system last year requires that Baptist build a $250 million replacement.
“We wanted to be near the hospital, near (major highways) and near infrastructure,” said Baptist spokesman Dick Cowart, who said 15 sites were considered.
Baptist chief operating officer Jason Little said all potentially viable properties were considered, despite the withdrawal of some landowners after his spoken pledge last year to locate within existing city limits.
Cowart said the site’s location between Old Taylor Road and South Lamar Boulevard preserves the south Oxford medical community, makes the existing campus more marketable and has multiple access points to highways and other arteries.
“I can’t tell you where the front doors (or) the emergency entrance will be,” Cowart said. “But it will have primary entrances on both Old Taylor and South Lamar.”
Although the purchase agreement required the hospital footprint to be in Oxford city limits, the site is mostly outside the city but under court consideration for inclusion. Both city and county boards approved enabling Baptist to proceed with site planning and state approval.
Old Taylor Road will be four-laned from Highway 6 to Bickerstaff Drive, which will be given a roundabout, and Belk Boulevard will extend west across the site. Baptist will cover any costs not covered by transportation grants.
Several minutes of discussion ensued over whether the streets’ costs would count toward Baptist’s obligation for a new $250 million hospital.
“I don’t want to be parsimonious about it,” Oxford Mayor Pat Patterson said. “I think we’re headed toward $300 million.”
Don Hutson, administrator of Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi, and Oxford Alderman E.O. Oliver both expressed satisfaction with the site selection.
“I’m thankful it’s still in that section of Oxford, that that’s still the medical community,” Oliver said.