• 61°

Highland’s Certificate of Need approved

Pearl River County is a step closer to a new hospital now that Highland Community Hospital’s Certificate of Need has been approved by the state.

The new hospital, to be built off of U.S. 11, has been approved by the Mississippi Health Department for 95 beds. The current hospital on Goodyear Boulevard has only 60 beds campus wide, said Steve Grimm, Highland Community Hospital administrator.

To accommodate the growth expected in the county’s future, the new hospital will be designed and constructed so that additions can easily be built onto the new hospital. Those expansions could increase the number of beds at the hospital to 200 beds, Grimm said. However, adding any beds also would have to be approved by the state.

“Even though it is a 95-bed hospital, it has the space available to go up to 200,” Grimm said.

The need for more than 200 beds would occur only if the population of the county doubles, Grimm said.

Construction of the new hospital will be overseen by Marshall Erdman and Associates using as many local companies as possible, Grimm said. He expects construction of the adjacent Medical Office Building to begin first and to start within the next three months. Construction of the hospital will begin after the medical office building is half complete, tentatively nine months from now, he said. Meetings with the contractor have been frequent to keep the ball rolling, the hospital administrator said.

“We can’t afford any more delays,” Grimm said.

Currently, the hospital administrator estimates Highland admits about a third of the county’s population who has trouble paying for medical treatment and another third who have insurance.

“What we’re missing is that third that goes to Slidell,” Grimm said.

Grimm expects that a number of stories of unsatisfactory treatment by the hospital that are told around Pearl River County about Highland keep people from going there. He asks residents to address any complaints with the hospital to the administration.

“The only thing we can change is the future,” Grimm said. “If they (local residents) will work with us, we’ll focus on what’s wrong, but they got to come in and tell the right people. That’s here in administration. Certainly if we don’t fix it, then we don’t deserve (for) them to come here.”

A common complaint that Grimm said he hears and that the hospital is addressing concerns long wait times in the emergency room. The administrator said adjustments in that department are in the works to make wait times shorter.

“I believe we have good employees and good doctors,” Grimm said.