Supervisors discuss hospital during meeting

From press and staff



Winston Medical Center and plans for the future were the hot topic during the Winston County Board of Supervisors regular meeting on May 6.

Addressing the board about the status of the hospital and what the future holds were Winston Medical Center CEO Lee McCall and several local doctors. McCall begin by explaining the cost of services for the hospital, including what Medicaid and Medicare covers. He also explained the operating margin of the hospital, and how most hospitals operate at less than a margin of one to two percent.

McCall then stated that last year Winston Medical Center provided charity care services in excess of $225,000. These were services provided regardless of a person’s ability to pay or not. He also included that the hospital last year wrote off over 2.3 million dollars in bad debts, which were those persons who were unwilling to pay their bill. This represented 12 percent of the business for the hospital. These numbers did not include doctor fees.

McCall then stated that the annual economic impact that Winston Medical has on the economy of Winston County and the State of Mississippi was 29 million dollars. He then stated the outlook for this year for the hospital is challenging, due to concerns regarding the Affordable Health Care Act and the state of Mississippi renewing Medicaid.

The hospital is concerned about five million dollars in cuts over the next 10 years due to Medicare and sequestration (a procedure in United States law that limits the size of the federal budget). McCall stated that expansion of Medicaid, however, could help offset these future costs. He states that if Medicaid is not reauthorized or expanded, then it would have a detrimental effect to the hospital.

McCall also mentioned other services that were available to residents, including some local and free clinics such as Cornerstone Clinic and others. He explained how they operated and who they provide care for.

McCall also went over the hospital’s strategic plan to help enhance the company’s image and expand access to care and strengthen physician’s relationships. With a shortage of health care providers, which is nationwide, McCall and others are working on a plan of action to address this.

Another part of the strategic plan is to recruit doctors to the area. McCall announced that the hospital will have two new doctors in the upcoming future, and that recruitment is an ongoing effort.

Also in the works is the opening of new clinics such as a planned one in Noxapater. McCall said it has taken some time to get these projects started because of lack of physicians.

McCall also mentioned some of the accomplishments the hospital has made, such as renovating the WMC nursing home, implementation of electronic health record system, and development of a strategic plan.

A major concern that McCall mentioned to the board was the arrival of the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District’s plan of opening a clinic in Louisville. He stated that planning and development districts should serve as a resource, and are not designed to compete with local services.

McCall stated that this clinic did not fit into their plan of what they want to do for the county. He explained how their clinic would operate and be funded, and worried that if they needed additional funds, they would come to the county for it. If this was to occur, this would possibly take funds from the hospital.

In other board news, Winston County Sheriff Jason Pugh discussed with supervisors the purchasing of a drug dog for the department. Pugh said that some of his deputies asked him about having a drug dog. Pugh told them if they could find donations to purchase the animal then it could be done. After going to local businesses for donations for the dog, the deputies had raised enough for the purchase.

Pugh asked the board for permission to accept the donations for use to purchase the animal. The board accepted the motion to purchase the dog for use as a drug dog for the Sheriff’s Department. The cost for the dog will be $6,000.

In other news, the board:

• Approved lease purchase agreement for District 4 motor grader.

• Approved rental agreement with Pitney Bowes for Chancery Clerk’s Office.

• Approved acceptance/rejections on Homestead Chargebacks for Winston County—Julie Cunningham.

• Approved demand check to MS Constable Association for Conference. Constables Hunt and Fulton: $700.00.

• Acknowledged training of Election Commissioners.

• Acknowledged Grand Jury report.

• Acknowledged permit authorization for BR-0080(30)B, Old Robinson Road Project from MDOT.

The Winston County Board of Supervisors will have their next scheduled meeting on May 20, 2013.