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Methodist wins CON to build in Olive Branch

After years of wrangling, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare has been given the green light to build a new 100-bed acute care hospital in Olive Branch.

On July 29 at the regularly scheduled Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) monthly Certificate of Need (CON) meeting, state health officer Mary Currier, MD, gave her stamp of approval on Methodist’s proposed Olive Branch Hospital-the final step necessary to begin the $137 million construction project.

Also in the CON, Methodist received authority for a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) unit, two therapeutic cardiac catheterization labs, an open-heart surgery room, and adult and pediatric emergency services in Olive Branch Hospital.

Methodist has sought to build a hospital in Olive Branch for nearly a decade, and recently closed a $5 million deal to buy 40 acres on the corner of U.S. Highway 78 and Bethel Road (Hacks Cross Road). The proposed facility will be located on 20 acres in the southeast quadrant.

To pave the way for another hospital to be built in burgeoning DeSoto County, the MSDH Board voted 5 to 3 last July to adopt changes to the state health plan, allowing for consideration of a second hospital in counties with populations of 140,000 or more, with several additional criteria.

The MSDH Office of Health Policy and Planning said DeSoto County would probably be the only county in Mississippi to meet the need requirement for fiscal year 2010.

Memphis-based Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation and Alliance Health Care of Holly Springs had both spoken out in opposition to Methodist’s CON application, yet no other hospital system stepped forward to submit a competitive CON application for DeSoto County. As the Methodist CON application reached its final stages, opposition seemed to drop, leading some to speculate that backroom deals were made.

Earlier this year, Methodist Le Bonheur spokesperson Ruth Ann Hale had said if the CON is approved in late summer, the new hospital could open in the first quarter of 2013. So far, there are no preliminary drawings. “It’s too early for that,” she said.

The CON for Olive Branch Hospital was awarded with several conditions. The hospital must provide indigent care and Medicaid care above the average amount, as determined by Currier. It must establish outpatient services in Tunica County or an adjacent county without a hospital, and fully participate in the Trauma Care System at a level to be determined by the MSDH for five years, and as a network provider in the State and School Employees’ Health Insurance Plan as defined in Mississippi Code Sections. Methodist Healthcare senior vice president David Baytos, who will serve as CEO of Mississippi, recently returned from Gaborone, Botswana, where in his role as chief of international healthcare services he completed a three-month appointment as interim head of operations for Bokamoso Private Hospital. He had been leading Methodist’s efforts to assist in developing policies and procedures, clinical protocols, and other requirements for the 200-bed acute care hospital that opened January 11, 2010, by OR International LLC, a hospital development and management company.

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About Lynne W. Jeter

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