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Hospital backers in appeal wait-and-see

OLIVE BRANCH — Supporters of a proposed $137-million hospital in Olive Branch are hoping to clear one last hurdle this week so the project can move forward.

Tomorrow is the deadline to appeal the state’s July 29 approval of Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare’s proposal. Hospital and city officials want the deadline to pass quietly.

The Commercial Appeal reports that if the project is uncontested, it could mark the end of the long struggle to bring a hospital to eastern DeSoto County.

“You never know until it’s done,” said Methodist spokesman Ruth Ann Hale.

The proposal has faced opposition in the past from Baptist Memorial Healthcare, which operates a 339-bed hospital across DeSoto County in Southaven. Baptist Memorial Healthcare, however, has attempted to block the latest effort.

Alliance Healthcare System Inc. of Holly Springs had opposed the Methodist request initially, later dropped its opposition.

State Health Officer Dr. Mary Currier and the state Board of Health have said they would review the July 29 decision.

Hale said that after tomorrow — if there’s no appeal — officials can begin the process of zoning approval and choosing an architect.

She said there’s no timeline for how things would proceed, but plans call for the 100-bed hospital to ready for use by 2013 on a site at U.S. 78 and Bethel Road.

Methodist already has a presence in Olive Branch with the Carvel Imaging Centers and a Minor Medical Center.

State health officials have required Methodist, as a condition of the approval, to establish outpatient services in Tunica County “or any other adjacent county without a hospital,” according to the Health Department website.

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