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Baptist Memorial Hospital-DeSoto and Olive Branch officials call truce

Feud is finally over; DeSoto County residents win

They’ve kissed and made up. Now, Baptist Memorial Hospital-DeSoto is back on track with its $175 million expansion in Southaven and Randon and Lynn Carvel of Olive Branch are moving forward with a proposed $2-million medical facility in Olive Branch.

Olive Branch officials dropped its challenge of the CON for Baptist-DeSoto’s 140-bed, 140,000-square-foot tower, paving the way for construction to begin by 2004. Final approval by the state health department on the $175 million project, the largest CON ever filed in Mississippi based on size and cost, is expected by the end of the month. When complete, the hospital will house 339 beds.

In turn, Baptist-DeSoto dropped its appeal to the Mississippi Supreme Court of the CON for the Carvels’ 12,000-square-foot ambulatory surgery center, which has already been approved by the state. Construction will begin immediately on the facility, which will house three operating rooms and a procedure room. Community Care Health Centers will manage the facility.

“The issues stemmed from our mutual desire to do what’s best for the residents of DeSoto County,” said Bill Caldwell, CEO of Baptist-DeSoto. “The City of Olive Branch requested a review of our certificate of need, but because we have had an ongoing dialogue with the mayor of Olive Branch, we were able to work out our concerns and reach an agreement we feel is best for DeSoto County.”

Olive Branch officials opposed Baptist-DeSoto’s expansion plans, saying the project would make it difficult for the city to pursue an inpatient hospital because of CON regulations, which are allotted on regional population counts.

For several years, Olive Branch officials have sought a medical facility similar to St. Francis-Bartlett, a $67-million, 90-bed acute care hospital located in Bartlett, a suburb north of Memphis. City officials have expressed a desire to work with Baptist, St. Francis or Methodist Healthcare to build a community hospital in Olive Branch. Baptist-DeSoto strongly opposed a proposal by Methodist in the 1990s.

The compromise between city officials and the hospital calls for the hiring of a health-planning consultant within six years to study the need for acute care hospital beds in Olive Branch.

If the consultant’s study determines a need for acute care services, and the findings are acceptable to both parties, Baptist would have first dibs to file a CON application for hospital beds in Olive Branch.

The hospital has also agreed to establish a community advisory board that will provide input to the hospital in developing health care facilities and services in DeSoto County. Mayor Sam Rikard of Olive Branch will serve as the board’s inaugural chairman.

“I am pleased that this agreement allows for the immediate construction of the surgical center in Olive Branch,” said Rikard. “Our goal has always been to offer to Olive Branch residents a higher level of health care.”

Built on a 188-acre tract of land located only a few miles from the Tennessee border, the 199-bed hospital opened in 1988. Since then, Baptist-DeSoto has undergone a number of expansions. The hospital’s diagnostics center opened in 1995. Two years later, the emergency department was expanded five times its original size to 15,500 square feet, with 21 rooms and five ambulance bays.

In 2001, an expansion project nearly doubled the size of the hospital and added a new critical care unit. For the first time, DeSoto County residents had local access to open-heart surgery care. The hospital’s labor and delivery services expanded when the hospital opened a 34,000-square-foot women’s pavilion. The Baptist Cancer Institute-DeSoto, the county’s first radiation oncology unit, opened in December.

The original hospital design was not intended for tertiary care. Instead, it was based on a template for a small community hospital that could divert more complicated cases to Memphis. At the time, the hospital was easily accessed from Goodman Road, now a busy major thoroughfare with one of the nation’s busiest Wal-Marts located across the road.

The new plan calls for a 410,000-square-foot tower with 339 beds, with support functions consolidated in the new building. Expanded diagnostic services and a new chapel will be added. Part of the plan calls for renovations to 100,000 square feet of one of the oldest parts of the hospital, which includes rehabilitation services and the emergency department. The campus will be rerouted toward Airways Boulevard, a fast-growing medical corridor.

“The new equipment will accommodate the new services we have added to Baptist-DeSoto during the past couple of years, such as open heart surgery and radiation therapy,” said Caldwell. “Some of the equipment we’re adding includes four gamma cameras, two CT scanners, additional cath labs, digital diagnostic equipment, which will make it easier to transmit images, and a biplane camera for use in the radiology area.”

Baptist Memorial Health Care COO David Hogan said the additional space would allow Baptist-DeSoto to provide north Mississippians with more high level care services closer to home and make it more convenient to deliver and receive care.

In 2000, Randon Carvel built a $5-million, 16,000-square-foot facility in Olive Branch, which houses the Family Cancer Center and Stern Cardiovascular Specialists. Last fall, Carvel broke ground on a $2.5-million, 11,000-square-foot medical facility in Southaven. He plans to use 8,000 square feet for a diagnostic imaging center and lease the remainder to a smaller practice. It will feature radiology services, including CT scanning, fluoroscopy, mammography, and nuclear medicine, which do not require a CON. Once the facility opens, Carvel plans to add an MRI, which requires a CON.

Baptist-DeSoto challenged Carvel’s CON application for an MRI in Olive Branch and lost on appeal. The hospital also challenged Carvel’s MRI in Southaven. Carvel’s referral group has grown from 50 to 500 physicians.

“We’re building in Southaven because our physicians repeatedly say that they could refer a lot more business to us if we had a place there,” Carvel said last fall.

Carvel headed a group of 20 physicians who formed an LLC to build a 12,000-square-foot surgical center in Olive Branch at Highway 78 and Riverdale Road, a neighborhood that already houses several medical facilities and Carvel Imaging Center. This facility represented the latest CON contested by Baptist-DeSoto.

The Carvels did not return phone calls by press time.

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne W. Jeter at mbj@thewritingdesk.com.

About Lynne W. Jeter

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