The first of two educational sessions on OCH Regional Medical Center begins 5:30 p.m. today at the county courthouse with District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer’s meeting on county health care possibilities.
Trainer’s session, scheduled at the last board meeting in June, will feature Richard Cowart, a representative of the Nashville branch of the Baker Donelson firm.
According to its website, Baker Donelson’s health care division has represented hospitals and health systems in almost 100 transactions in 15 states. In June, Cowart, a native Mississippian, said he will share experiences from other in-state transactions, including deals in Lowndes and Lafayette counties.
“I’m just trying to tell the real stories and the real factors,” Cowart said in June. “Different communities make different decisions.”
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 with Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation in previous transactions. Developer Spencer Bailey referenced bringing Cowart in to discuss OCH’s future as “like having a fox in the chicken house.”
“I don’t think it would be fair to bring this man into Oktibbeha County,” Bailey said in June.”
When elaborating on citizens’ concerns, Trainer said today’s forum will stay balanced and present the facts in an “even-keel” manner.
“There’s nothing more we can do than let (Cowart) present his experiences about what other communities are doing. We’re not at the point (of a transaction) where we can answer a lot of what-if questions, but I’m very excited about the possibilities we have here,” Trainer said. “I think we have a lot of potential to do something special. It won’t be an easy task, but I think it could be very beneficial if we positioned ourselves correctly. If we do go a different direction (away from a county-owned hospital), the key is to find the right partner. If that idea is good for the county, it will shine, but if it’s not, it will not.”
Last week, Supervisors Marvell Howard, John Montgomery and Trainer all said they would be in attendance for today’s meeting. Phone calls to Supervisors Joe Williams and Daniel Jackson were unreturned last week, but the other board members are confident they will also be in attendance.
Following today’s session, another public meeting regarding the hospital will be held 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Greensboro Center. Thursday’s pro-OCH event organized by hospital supporter Frank Davis, will feature top OCH administrators and trustees telling the hospital’s past and present while outlining their vision for its future for health care delivery.
Supervisors approved a request for hospital analysis proposals at the end of their June 25 meeting. State law requires an outside analysis before any government-owned hospital sale or lease is attempted. No other action toward a hospital sale has been approved by the county. Trainer’s session was scheduled independent of board action.