Tippah County Hospital may be leased

By Hank Wiesner/Southern Sentinel

RIPLEY – Tippah County Supervisors are considering a recommendation to look for a larger hospital organization to lease and operate the Tippah County Hospital.
Neither the supervisors nor the hospital Board of Trustees want to consider a sale of the hospital at this time, supervisors said.
Supervisors said a long-term lease would keep the ownership of the hospital with the county, but would allow the operator to incorporate the hospital into its own system, and make needed capital and operational improvements to the facility with its own money instead of county tax dollars. The operator also could bring needed specialty services to the hospital.
Supervisors said no decision has been made, but they will likely move ahead to receive proposals. Supervisors will make a formal decision to request proposals from several surrounding hospital organizations.
According to supervisors, under a lease arrangement, the county would continue to own the hospital to be sure that services were being delivered, but the lease would require the new operator to invest its own money into the building and operations.
The decision came after a meeting with the hospital Board of Trustees that oversees the day-to-day operations of the hospital. The purpose of the meeting was to hear the findings of a study commissioned by the county several weeks ago.
Horne CPA, a Jackson accounting firm, was hired to make a recommendation to supervisors concerning the future of the hospital. Horne representatives fielded questions from supervisors and trustees following their report.
For the past five years, the hospital has been managed by Quorum Health Services, a hospital management company, whose contract expires in January. Ultimately, if supervisors and trustees do not decide to lease the hospital, then the Board of Trustees must either continue operating the hospital through a management contract with Quorum or some other management company or hire a local administrator.
By law, any lease of the Tippah County Hospital would require the operator to continue operations. Supervisors added that any lease would require the new operator to maintain existing services, agree to expand services, require an investment of capital and protect hospital employees.