June 21, 2012 10:09:24 AM
Opposes hospital sale
Our Oktibbeha County Hospital Regional Medical Center is at a real crossroad.
Many of you are aware that our Oktibbeha County Supervisors are considering selling or leasing "Our" Oktibbeha County Hospital (OCH) Regional Medical Center to an out of town private organization. My wife Carole and I are pro-OCH citizens based on our positive experiences in having our second and third child at OCH and two of our grandchildren being born there. Additionally, we have used our OCH Emergency facility five times during our 48 years of marriage. Their attention and care of us was truly professional with a wonderful touch of Southern hospitality.
Many of our city and county citizens may not be aware of OCH's rich history. Prior to OCH our local hospital was the Felix Long Memorial Hospital, just south of Starkville's First United Methodist Church. As I understand it, Felix Long was not a county hospital, but a privately owned "for profit" hospital. In the early 1970's our Oktibbeha County Supervisors envisioned the need for a new county-run hospital whose mission would be providing health care to the people within a seven-county service area of the Golden Triangle. The OCH Regional Medical Center was built and opened its doors in 1973. That year the total Medical Staff of OCH consisted of 15 doctors with 11 active admitters representing three specialties. We are presently privileged to have 106 doctors with 38 active admitters representing 15 specialists. At least 51 of these doctors are making daily rounds within the hospital.
What amazes me is the vision that our administrators and Board of Trustees have shown in growing to meet the health needs of our community and surrounding counties. Today, we are proud owners of a hospital that has grown from a 60- to a 96-bed facility. The latest addition "The West Wing" plus some renovation to the hospital has just been completed. Yes, it costs us the taxpayers, but 61 percent of the voters cast their vote in favor of expanding OCH.
OCH has also grown significantly with the acquisition of 14 off-site properties since 1990 from our Wellness Center to our new Women's Clinic on Jackson Street. This has brought in doctors with special skills and knowledge such as those at our OCH Breast Health and Imaging Facility, the new OCH Center for Sleep Medicine, and OCH General Surgery Associates. This is a prime example of the vision and actions that our OCH Board of Trustees and Administrators have shown in providing improved medical care to us the people of Oktibbeha and surrounding counties.
In my opinion OCH under our Board of Trustees, made up of seven outstanding local citizens, and with the leadership of the hospital's administration has significantly improved OCH's ability to provide us with adequate health care. In fact, I believe that "Our" OCH is an excellent model for county owned hospitals in the State of Mississippi.
Please contact "Our" supervisors and ask them to carefully study the pros and cons between "Our" OCH Regional Medical Center and an outside organization before making a decision. How tragic it would be if they decide to lease or sell OCH and it turns out to be a very poor choice.
Frank M. Davis
The writer is a former alderman and vice mayor of Starkville.