Adams Co. interviews consultants

Published 5:23 pm Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Adams County Board of Supervisors is considering three potential candidates to conduct a study on what to do with the troubled Natchez Regional Medical Center.

The board recently passed a resolution to hire a consulting group to determine whether the hospital should be sold, leased or retained.

Supervisors, during an executive session on Tuesday, interviewed consultant company Butler Snow for nearly three hours.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“We had them explain how they would help the county with the hospital problem,” board president Henry Watts said.

After the interview process, Watts said the board voted to talk with another consulting group this week.

The consulting companies are well informed of NRMC’s situation and are generally experienced in handling struggling hospitals, Watts said.

He said he hopes all interviews will be completed by the end of the week.

“The supervisors understand that time is of the essence and we have to work speedily on this thing,” Watts said.

Board vice president S.E. “Spanky” Felter said it is important, however, that the board takes the necessary time to make the right choice.

“I know we have to do it quick but we’re going to do it right,” Felter said. “And the right thing is not jumping to the first (consultant) that comes along,” he said.

“We want to see who’s got the best deal,” Felter added.

Hospital attorney Walter Brown said the county and hospital board would like for the decision on whether to sell, lease or keep the hospital to coincide with legally declaring bankruptcy.

Brown has said that potential buyers would find purchasing a hospital under bankruptcy appealing. Overall, Brown said the legal process should take about 90 days long if everything goes smoothly.

“If it’s delayed it could take longer,” he said.

The board would also need to vote on a $3 million interim loan requested by the hospital board and hospital CEO Scott Phillips. The loan amount would, among other things, cover costs associated with the hospital study itself, hiring a consulting company and possible legal expenses, Brown said.

Though the amount was determined by the hospital board, the supervisors will vote on it.