By CARL SMITH
OCH Regional Medical Center supporter Frank Davis confirmed Wednesday a pro-OCH public meeting will be held 5:30 p.m. July 12 at the Greensboro Center.
Davis, a former Starkville alderman, announced plans Sunday to hold the event at its current time and place, but scheduling hang-ups almost forced the event to be held a day later at the Starkville Sportsplex.
The pro-OCH meeting will feature hospital CEO Richard Hilton, its board of trustees and other top-level administrators. Davis said he will meet with hospital leaders and trustees Friday to discuss the meeting and develop its itinerary.
“We want the entire community to hear about our hospital, talk to its leaders and ask questions,” Davis said.
Hilton said he will share information regarding the hospital’s current state and its path for the future, while also addressing the services it does and does not offer.
“We want to share with the public our story and what we’ve done in the past, what we’re doing now and where we’re going in the future, including a lot about our operation, physician recruitment, service commitments and financial information,” Hilton said. “Some have asked why we don’t have certain services, and I want to share numbers and (state board of health) requirements. I really want the public to understand what the hospital is about and not some vagueness
Future educational sessions could be scheduled, Davis said Sunday, including sessions at OCH which would feature hospital staff.
Davis began a door-to-door petition drive in Oktibbeha County two weekends ago and collected signatures from residents who are against any possible OCH sale or lease. Hilton said the grassroots movement sparked naturally from citizens’ concern and without any OCH input or guidance. As the conversation regarding OCH’s future continues, Hilton said he is planning to take a more-active role in the discussion.
“What I’ll do from (July 12) on is I will talk to any group that wants to hear about the hospital and any information regardless of how big or small the group. It’s the appropriate thing to do; I’m the voice of the hospital, and the trustees have gone on the record as being opposed to the sale. They have instructed the administration to oppose the sale in any way we can,” Hilton said. “We’ve been real silent up until this point.”
The natural development of a pro-OCH grassroots movement reflects a deep care and passion for the county hospital, Hilton said.
“Frank came to us … I didn’t arrange (the grassroots movement),” he said. “You couldn’t ask for a better situation with Frank and Carole (McReynolds Davis, Frank Davis’ wife), who have a tremendous passion (for the hospital to) remain local.
The Davis-led meeting will fall three days after District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer’s session on health care opportunities in Oktibbeha County. Trainer’s session, which was arranged separately from the county board of supervisors, will feature Richard Cowart, a representative of the Nashville-based Baker Donelson Firm. The organization has represented hospitals and health care systems in almost 100 transactions.
During the board’s June 25 meeting, members of the public questioned why Cowart was chosen to lead an educational session when he has ties to previous hospital transactions while representing Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation.
Although concerns developed about Cowart’s representation to potential hospital suitors, Trainer said his meeting will provide fairness to the situation.
“We’ve formally invited everyone; anyone is welcome to come,” Trainer said Sunday. “We’ll try to have it so it’s not tilted to one way so we can have an even-keel meeting.”