At a recent rally for the proposed St. Dominic’s Madison Campus, approximately 400 supporters learned of the hospital’s plans to expand the new hospital campus with 350 acres of sports fields and recreational features.
The addition to the campus would be a public-private investment for health and wellness, sports and recreation, said Paul Arrington, St. Dominic’s vice president of business development. The plans include walking trails, green space, an amphitheater, 15 soccer fields, 19 baseball fields, 16 tennis courts and a banquet center.
The plans are preliminary and there is currently no timeline, but it will be a multi-million dollar investment, Arrington said. “(St. Dominic’s) major investment was in the property,” he said. Most of the project would likely be funded by non-hospital sources. The City of Madison is a strong supporter of the project.
Arrington said the proposed recreational area would be a large tourism draw. A regional sports venue of this size does not exist in the state, Arrington said, and consultants estimate the venue would attract 600,000 visitors annually.
The rally was held Feb. 1 at the Madison Cultural Center, days before the scheduled St. Dominic’s certificate of need (CON) hearings before the state Health Department, which will continue through Feb. 17. A CON is necessary in order for St. Dominic’s to gain permission to construct a $121-million, 71-bed facility in South Madison County.
Hospital Management Associates Inc., owners of the current Madison County Medical Center (MCMC) in Canton, have broken ground on a new $42-million facility in Canton that will serve the county and surrounding counties. MCMC’s 67 beds will be transferred to its new facility, named Madison River Oaks. MCMC’s current facility was built in 1965.
HMA legally opposes St. Dominic’s proposed Madison Campus, saying there is not enough room for two hospitals in Madison County. St. Dominic’s says there is room for both facilities in Madison County based on projected population growth. Mississippi is one of 30 states that uses a formula that factors in population density in a CON process to determine how many hospital beds can be economically supported in an area.
HMA’s Madison River Oaks hospital will be open in fall 2011. If permitted, the St. Dominic’s facility would open tentatively in 2014.
The hospitals have a history of fighting for Madison County turf. St. Dominic’s opposed HMA’s CON application in 2005 to build its new facility currently underway. St. Dominic’s says it opposed that CON because it was in conflict with a CON St. Dominic’s had already put in place for permission to build a new hospital in the county. St. Dominic’s applied for a CON to build a new hospital after HMA attempted to move its beds to Hinds County in 2002.
HMA took over MCMC, then called Madison General, in 2002, when it was run by the county and $9 million in debt. MCMC is currently the only hospital in Madison County, which has more than 89,000 residents.
Access road nixed by supervisors
Also on Feb. 1, the Madison County Board of Supervisors voted to nix a $42-million Reunion Parkway project, which would have created an interchange on Interstate 55 between the Madison and Gluckstadt exits.
The Parkway would have provided additional access to St. Dominic Hospital’s proposed Madison Campus.
“We have great access. It won’t affect plans for the hospital,” Arrington said. The new facility would be accessible via Highway 463 and Galleria Parkway. “From our perspective, (Reunion Parkway) is going to get built sometime. It’s a matter of when, not if,” he said.
St. Dominic’s supports the road, which will be a road for the people, not just St. Dominic’s, Arrington said.
Longtime Reunion supporter, Supervisor Tim Johnson, said he does not think the road’s vote-down will affect the outcome of the CON hearings.
“My understanding is that with or without the interchange, the hearing would have been a 50-50 no matter what. But, we as a board have pushed the Reunion project for the past four years. We believe it is one of the most important roads in Madison County to be built,” Johnson said.
The board voted unanimously to turn down the project due to the conditions of a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) from the Mississippi Department of Transportation, which put the burden of financing on Madison County residents, Johnson said.
Johnson said someone within MDOT is “playing games.” MDOT had Madison’s plans for 17 months, but called and said they had changes 10 days before bids were supposed to be accepted, Johnson said. MDOT submitted 105 changes to the MOU.
“It was told to us this project was rat-holed. This is what you do to a project when you want it killed. Somebody (within MDOT) did not want this project built. That’s sad,” Johnson said.
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