EDITORIAL: NMMC looks to future

Celebration of 20 years in the Women's Hospital and Surgery Center on the still-expanding campus of North Mississippi Medical Center put the spotlight where it is most needed – on incredible medical progress in two decades.

Michaela Gibson Morris' story highlighted two advances typifying how much has been accomplished in the kind of medicine practiced in the two specialized centers:

- Babies weighing as little as 1.1 pounds have hope of survival after premature birth, and,

- 60 percent of surgery volume today is outpatients – people who don't spend a night in the hospital before or following surgery. It was 10 percent 20 years ago. Today, 30 surgeons operate in the Surgery Center compared to 11 in 1986.

The hospital also noted that it is gearing up for the biggest demographics-driven medical challenge in American medical history: the aging and health decline of Baby Boomers, the 79-million-strong generation born between 1946 and 1964 mostly to the young adults who married during and after World War II.

The National Center for Policy Analysis, a think-tank, is among many agencies that have calculated the wealth, longevity and needs of the Boomers, and health care is one of their prime needs as the eldest turn 60 and the youngest surge past 40.

Thanks to advances in medical care, many of the Boomers will survive to 85 and beyond, an age when health care costs can become astronomical and hospital stays prolonged.

The Census Bureau has calculated that in 2031, when the first boomers turn 85 years old, 51 million will survive. Even in 2046, when the first boomer turns 100, their ranks will contain 18 million – one in an estimated 20 Americans.

The last Boomer is projected to die in 2070.

In addition, more babies will be born because our population soon will soar past 300 million. So, NMMC is planning for the delivery and care of record numbers of newborns.

Some complain about NMMC on various personal issues, but by any measure it is one of Northeast Mississippi's greatest assets.

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