EDITORIAL: Hospital plans

Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation’s plans to build a $200 million acute care hospital in Oxford on a new campus on Mississippi Highway 7 south potentially substantially expands the availability of specialized care and treatment in Northeast Mississippi.
Baptist Memorial/North Mississippi is part of the 16-hospital, Memphis-based system spread across western Tennessee, eastern Arkansas and northern Mississippi.
Baptist has leased a hospital and property owned by the city of Oxford and Lafayette County since 1989, investing more than $150 million for expansions and improvements, but Baptist Memorial officials say it has outgrown those facilities and needs more space.
Baptist’s proposal to build a new hospital needs approval by the Oxford Board of Aldermen and Lafayette County Board of Supervisors. Baptist’s purchase of the existing hospital is among the details to be worked out. It is leased through 2034.
We hope no roadblocks interrupt progress toward the goal.
In addition, Baptist must receive a Certificate of Need from the state, which has a State Health Plan, and its measures of acute care or referral needs is an important step in the process.
A 93-acre tract, whose precise location has not been disclosed but has been described as west of Highway 7 south, would be the site of the new hospital on about seven times the area of the 13-acre campus in use now.
A new hospital has been under discussion for more than a year, but officials said the process would require an additional five years for planning, design, and construction.
Oxford-Lafayette County development leaders said the new hospital would bring additional physicians and related development to the county and city. Oxford and Lafayette County are among the population growth leaders in north Mississippi. Growth is driven in part by Oxford’s well-known national reputation in quality of life issues and as a preferred retirement community.
Expanded health care availability obviously would help spur additional growth.
The announcement of a new hospital in the middle of the congressional health care reform debate is a vote of confidence in the future of the industry, which is a major employer in Northeast Mississippi, including the Tupelo-based North Mississippi Health Services system, plus other Baptist Memorial affiliates.
Construction of a new Oxford hospital could become part of what’s described in health care industry publications as a nationwide facility “building boom” that could exceed $60 billion.
A $200 million facility in a small city is proportionately a major jobs-producing investment.

NEMS Daily Journal