By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – The two-year process was completed Thursday for Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation to buy the hospital it has leased since 1989 from Lafayette County and the city of Oxford.
Officials from all three entities signed final papers, providing the Memphis-based nonprofit with the facility and the city and county with $30 million each in exchange.
“The final contract signing is an exciting step in our efforts to further position Baptist-North Mississippi as a regional referral center serving Oxford, Lafayette County and the surrounding communities,” said Jason Little, executive vice president with Baptist Memorial Health Care. “We look forward to being part of the community for generations to come.”
Baptist announced its goal from the beginning of negotiations was to replace the hospital, parts of which date to the early 1960s.
The system promised to build within five years of closing a state-of-the-art regional referral center with up to 250 beds at a cost of at least $250 million.
Such a building would provide more space, technological upgrades and a more efficient layout than the oft-expanded present building can offer on its landlocked 13-acre campus, Baptist officials said.
“Baptist-North Mississippi is the second largest employer in Lafayette County, and we look forward to their continued economic impact and commitment to the community,” said Lloyd Oliphant, president of the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors. “As I sit and have coffee with these folks and hear their long-range plans, I’m very comfortable that the right thing was done.”
“We are pleased that Baptist is making this investment in our community,” Oxford Mayor George “Pat” Patterson said. “We look forward to having an outstanding facility that will provide quality health care to the citizens of our community for years to come.”
The next stage toward construction will be land acquisition and the filing of a Certificate of Need application with the state, which will require a specific site and plans developed for it.
The application process is expected to take about six months.
Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi CEO Don Hutson said he hopes to be able to publicly identify the site by the end of this year.