Whether to advertise Tri-Lakes Medical Center for sale or not – that will be the question going before city and county officials now that the public has had its say.
The Batesville Mayor and Board of Aldermen could vote today during its regular meeting today at 2 p.m. at City Hall. The next meeting of the Panola County Board of Supervisors is March 24 at noon at the courthouse in Batesville.
"Don’t sell the hospital" was the opinion most expressed Thursday night when a standing-room-only crowd of upwards of 175 people attended the hearing at the courthouse in Batesville.
Sale, assuming it’s to Baptist Memorial Hospital Health Care Corporation, would limit competition some said. Others believe Baptist will only use Tri-Lakes as a feeder hospital for its other facilities including those in Oxford and Southaven where expansions are under way.
Some proponents of not selling the hospital say now that the facility is making money the current operators should be given a chance … that the facility can always be sold at any time.
But others want the hospital sold to Baptist, and, still others, expressed no firm opinion saying only that officials should research the issue and make a sound business decision.
Selling to Baptist, some believe, is needed to "get the city and county out of the hospital business" and because BMH has deep pockets for facilities and physician specialists and services.
Baptist, and Dr. Bob Corkern, current interim administrator, were the only prospects talked about as possible buyers for the hospital.
But if the decision is made to seek bids, other hospital corporations will be invited to bid, officials said.
Corkern is owner of Emergent Health in Jackson, a physician staffing service.
Sources close to the issue, speaking on the condition of anonymity, have told The Panolian that so far only Baptist and Corkern have expressed interest.
If Baptist, or another not-for-profit group purchases Tri-Lakes, it will not pay ad valorem taxes. If Dr. Corkern, or another private company, buys the hospital it will pay taxes. Currently, taxes aren’t paid because the facility is owned by the city and county.
If both boards agree to seek bids, according to assistant City Attorney Colmom Mitchell, three things can happen:
? The highest and best bid can be accepted
? Bids can be rejected
? Or, if 1,500 registered voters in the hospital district file a petition an election will be held and the hospital will be sold only if the majority vote in favor of that.
Currently, the hospital is run by a five-member board of trustees whose members are appointed by the county (three) and the city (two).