By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – After nearly two years of negotiating the proposed sale of their jointly owned hospital, city of Oxford and Lafayette County officials may not yet be quite aligned.
Oxford officials discussed Friday some hard-won changes to the memorandum of understanding that will allow Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation to buy the current hospital, which it has under lease until 2034.
As proposed, Baptist will spend at least $250 million on construction of a new facility within the city limits, at least matching current levels of service in number of beds, staffing, specialties and other measures.
Baptist agreed recently to consider the need for a Level II trauma center. The latest draft agreement also requires that if Baptist fails to build or operate a new facility, the city and county will keep the $30 million each of them will get for the sale, and Baptist will be obligated to fulfill its current lease.
Baptist has not agreed to providing psychiatric care, which could spare patients in psychiatric distress from jail confinement until space is available at hospitals from 50 to 180 miles away that offer psychiatric treatment.
While Oxford Mayor Pat Patterson said aldermen may vote on the MOU on Tuesday, Lafayette County Board of Supervisors President Lloyd Oliphant said “a couple of changes” still needed could keep the MOU off Monday’s agenda for his board.
“My druthers would be to have another meeting with the city and come to an agreement with them, since we’re 50-50 partners,” he said.
The negotiation parameters call for a final agreement no later than June 30.
Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or firstname.lastname@example.org.