The proposed new hospital stems from the sale of the existing 217-bed hospital from Lafayette County and the city of Oxford to Memphis-based Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation, with guarantees from Baptist to spend at least $250 million on a replacement. County and city officials agreed last week on a location just west of the existing structure on 160 acres of land under review for inclusion in the city.
The new location is subject to securing a certificate of need from the state Health Department, but Baptist officials do not anticipate a problem with that process, which typically takes four to five months if there is no opposition. Several parties are opposing the current petition by landowners in chancery court to have the proposed site included in Oxford's city limits, as the purchase contract requires, but Board of Aldermen Attorney Pope Mallette said last week he believes the city could readily annex the land through conventional processes.
Bill Tuttle, BMHCC vice president of planning, said one of the most noticeable differences will be "much larger patient rooms that will be more comfortable for patients and their families," with all rooms being private.
Other conveniences for patients, visitors and employees will be a major ingredient in the new design.
"Wayfinding will be much better, outside and inside, and parking will be more convenient," Tuttle said. "Another advantage will be the proximity of one department to another - the emergency room being adjacent to surgery or the intensive care unit. We'll try to group those kinds of services."
Even on patient floors, the design will emphasize convenience and efficiency.
"Just the travel paths that nurses take on a daily basis are an important factor," Tuttle said. "Many older facilities have long, slender corridors, where the nursing staff have to walk a long way to reach the patients. We have adopted a floor plan that keeps the walking distance to a minimum."
Early in the process Baptist noted that standard spacings between hospital floors has increased to 15 feet to accommodate more communications technology and mechanical systems between floors as well as to provide space for larger diagnostic and treatment equipment in procedure areas. Tuttle said operating rooms also will be larger to accommodate more technology.
Baptist North Mississippi draws more than 70 percent of its patients from outside of Lafayette County with more than 30 surgical and medical specialties. While health care professionals and area residents hope for an expansion of those offerings with the completion of the new hospital by 2016, additional services will be determined through the Certificate of Need process, Tuttle said.