DeSoto CON Opposition Hearing Slated for March
So far, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare has submitted the only certificate of need (CON) application to the Mississippi Board of Health for a new hospital in DeSoto County.
But the path isn’t clear just yet.
The next step in the CON application process is an 8-day public hearing in March to hear from Memphis-based Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation and Alliance Health Care of Holly Springs, who have opposed Methodist’s CON application.
“After that, if all goes well, we’re hopeful the state health department will grant us approval by late summer or early fall,” said Ruth Ann Hale, spokesperson for Methodist Le Bonheur. “With that timeline, we could open the hospital in DeSoto County in the first quarter of 2013.”
Methodist has sought to build a 100-bed hospital in Olive Branch for nearly a decade, and recently closed a $5 million deal to buy 40 acres on the southeast corner of Highway 78 and Bethel Road.
To pave the way for another hospital in burgeoning DeSoto County, the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) Board voted 5-3 on July 8 to adopt changes to the state health plan, allowing for consideration of a second hospital in counties with populations of 140,000 or more. 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.
No other hospital system, including Baptist Memorial, has stepped forward to submit a competitive CON application for DeSoto County. Because filing a CON application is a very costly and time-intensive process, that fact alone may deter other hospital systems from undertaking such a project with an uncertain outcome.
MSDH Board Chair Luke Lampton, MD, said the CON application must include provisions for improving access to trauma care in North Mississippi, providing outpatient services to contiguous counties without a hospital and therefore improving medical access in Tunica County, and agreeing to provide a high percentage of care to indigent patients and Medicaid patients, thus improving access to care for the uninsured and financially disadvantaged.
“Most automatically assume that what was approved gave Methodist a hospital in Olive Branch,” said Lampton. “It did not. This is not a done deal. The board's action initiates a fair and competitive process to provide a hospital in a heavily populated region, which needs an additional facility. These CON changes have been carefully crafted to improve access to medical care not only in DeSoto County, but also in nearby counties, such as Tunica County, which is medically underserved.”