May 9, 2018 10:54:54 AM
OCH Regional Medical Center's Board of Trustees began a trio of meetings with possible affiliation partners on Tuesday.
OCH, an Oktibbeha County owned system, began looking at affiliation amid a hard-fought campaign in 2017 county supervisors set in motion to try to sell the hospital and its clinics. Voters in November, however, opted to keep OCH publicly owned.
An affiliation would create a partnership of shared resources between OCH and a larger system without giving that system ownership rights.
Three health care systems have proposed affiliation to OCH -- Memphis-based Baptist Memorial Health Services, North Mississippi Health Services of Tupelo and the Jackson-based University of Mississippi Medical Center.
OCH board chair Linda Breazeale told The Dispatch on Tuesday that the meetings are follow-ups to presentations on affiliation the board has already received and reviewed in March. The board recently approved a set of 47 questions for the systems to review and answer.
This week's meetings are taking place in executive session, and Breazeale said she doesn't expect the board will take any action during the week.
"There's not a lot to report right now," Breazeale said. "We're just listening to a follow-up to their presentations. They're going over the questions we submitted to them and clarifying issues.
"I wouldn't anticipate us saying 'This is the one we'll affiliate with,'" she added. "We may meet next week to see what the board's pleasure is, if we've got all the information we feel we need."
The meetings began with North Mississippi Health Services, Breazeale said, and will continue with University of Mississippi Medical Center today and Baptist Memorial Health Services on Thursday.
OCH CEO Richard Hilton said he also expects the board to take time before making a decision.
"If the other presentations are similar to what the first presentation was, with detailed responses, I'm sure they're going to have to take time and digest those responses before deciding their next step," he said.
Alex Holloway was formerly a reporter with The Dispatch.
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