Oxford OKs next step on hospital sale

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – After a year-and-a-half of negotiations, Oxford is yet another step closer to having a new hospital.
Aldermen voted 5-0 Tuesday night to prepare a Memorandum of Understanding toward the sale of Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi.
Aldermen Brad Mayo and Ney Williams, who have family members who work with Baptist, recused themselves from the vote.
The hospital is jointly owned by the city and Lafayette County and has been leased since 1989 to Memphis-based Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation. Baptist has 24 years left on its lease after some $165 million in capital improvements, but its officials have said the 13-acre campus is impractical for further expansion.
The system has offered $33 million to each of the two owning entities to buy the existing facility and its Certificate of Need with the promise of building a $250-300 million hospital elsewhere in the city. Lafayette supervisors voted to issue a memorandum of understanding at a joint public meeting with city and hospital officials on Jan. 24.
“There are lots of details in this proposal,” said Mayor George “Pat” Patterson. “We’re going to work as carefully as we can with our friends from Baptist, but we’re excited about the prospect.”
City Attorney Pope Mallette, who will draft the memorandum of understanding, expressed confidence that agreement could be reached on the details.
Patterson requested and received approval to appoint a committee, to be chaired by Mayor Pro Tempore Ulysses Howell, to oversee receiving, investing and spending proceeds of the sale. After the sale is completed and payment is arranged, Mayo, an investment adviser, will likely join the committee.
Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or errol.castens@journalinc.com.