January 30, 2018 10:13:44 AM
JACKSON -- Mississippi is on its way to receiving its first palliative care facility, which would be a home for some of the most medically vulnerable patients in the state, some of whom are now at the Children's Hospital.
In his State-of-the-State address earlier this month, Gov. Phil Bryant called a palliative care facility the utmost "mission of mercy" his administration could achieve. Palliative care involves pain relief.
About five patients with serious illnesses live at Batson Children's Hospital on the University of Mississippi Medical Center campus, where they receive multidisciplinary care, The Clarion-Ledger reported. About five others in Mississippi would benefit from the option to live in a palliative care facility and even more children from Mississippi live in these kind of facilities in other states.
The patients deserve to live in a more home-like facility where they can still receive the highly specialized care they require, said Guy Giesecke, CEO of Children's of Mississippi.
The state House passed a bill last week that would lease state-owned property in east Jackson to a nonprofit that has agreed to pay to build a new facility.
"There's nowhere for them to go and there's no one to take care of them," said the bill's author, Rep. Tom Weathersby, R-Florence.
Batson, an acute-care hospital, is not designed to provide long-term care. Medicaid does not reimburse the hospital for it, but would reimburse for services provided in a palliative care facility.
Two locations in Jackson have been mentioned as possible sites for the new facility.
Another group has been working for years on a similar proposal in west Jackson, the Jackson newspaper reported.
A plan to build one of these facilities has been in the works for several years, but by a different group who wanted to use the opportunity to bring development to west Jackson.
John Brashier, former pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, lobbied for legislation back in 2012 that would allow a provider to acquire a certificate of need from the state Department of Health to build a palliative care facility. The intent was that the facility would go inside his church on the west side of downtown.
That effort began nearly a decade ago, when Calvary began considering ways to repurpose its large 1920s building. It paired up with New Orleans' St. Margaret Foundation, a nonprofit experienced in renovating historic buildings following Hurricane Katrina and running skilled nursing facilities.
Weathersby said he didn't remember the 2012 bill.
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