Openness editorial

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 7, 2007

Openess fuels public respect and trust

Some who heard the remarks of three spokesmen for Tri-Lakes Medical Center Tuesday at the Batesville Rotary meeting commented among themselves afterward that they were left unsure about what main point had been driven by the full court press.

Certainly we heard George Randolph’s appeal “to look at the potential of what’s here,” a reflection of Dr. Robert Corkern’s observation that in Tupelo what is now “the largest private hospital in the U. S.” was, 20 years ago, “a little community hospital in the woods.”

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Dr. David Ball reiterated his position that Corkern’s proposal to purchase the facility in 2005 “was the only one who had the vision to make this something other than a feeding station” into other hospital facilities nearby.

Corkern and Ball made several statements to emphasize that short-term financing for the facility during its chapter 11 reorganization bankruptcy has dried up.

Randolph pointed out the importance of a strong local medical facility for its own economic impact as well as part of a foundation for community economic development.

(Randolph also reminded us that proceeds from the hospital sale paid off the city and county debt for the facility’s construction and provided funds for many miles of county road paving last summer.)

But that afternoon, as calls began to come in from Tri-Lakes employees about meetings where they had been told that new management was in place and some employees had been terminated in the process we felt caught flat-footed and have spent the next two days attempting to gather the information that appears in a story on the front page of this issue.

Back when Panola Mills was in operation in Batesville, the joke was that the only product that came out of that factory in greater numbers than the Fruit-of-the-Loom underwear and tee-shirts they sewed was rumors. We have found that schools and hospitals also manufacture large numbers of rumors.

That’s why it is so important for accurate information to be made available to the public as quickly as possible. Even if it’s bad news, the version that gets passed word of mouth on the street is going to be worse.

Now for the good news.

During several days of phone calls and conversations, we have been assured that the bankruptcy court handling this reorganization has as its priority the continued, uninterrupted operation of Tri-Lakes Medical Center.

Likewise, the chief restructuring officer now in place has assured us as well as the hospital’s board of directors: “This hospital’s going to make it.”

Keeping the public informed whether news is good or bad will build support and respect for Tri-Lakes and help the facility stay ahead of the rumor mill.