Board of Supervisors lobby for hospital in D.C.

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, February 28, 2017

During a recent trip to the District of Columbia, members of the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors lobbied to change a federal regulation that could endanger the emergency room at Pearl River County Hospital and Nursing Home.
“Some of the issues at the hospital are not just Pearl River County issues,” County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin said.
Due to a change in the definition of a critical access hospital, federal funding through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services could be cut, previous coverage states.
As a result, it’s possible that Pearl River County Hospital could no longer afford to operate its emergency room because it currently receives 99 percent reimbursement for qualifying CMS procedures, according to previous coverage.
“To lose critical access status would certainly hurt us, but I would remind people we had a hospital before this,” Board Vice President Hudson Holliday said.
Because the hospital received its critical access designation in 2010, it is not grandfathered in, according to new federal regulations, which stipulate how close one CAH can be to another, Holliday said.
A total of 11 hospitals in Mississippi and 600 nationwide could be affected if nothing is done, Lumpkin said.
“That’s the reason we have support from all the senators,” Holliday said.
Because Pearl River County is the third largest county in the state, distance to an emergency room is an important factor for patient care, Holliday said.
If someone lives in an outlying community and has a medical emergency, it already takes 15 minutes to get to the emergency room in Poplarville; if they have to go to Hattiesburg or Picayune for treatment, they might not make it, Holliday said.
“It’s an issue that we’ve been working on for over a year now,” he said, adding that the issue has no bearing on the operation of the nursing home.
Holliday, Lumpkin and Supervisors Donald Hart and Farron Moeller were in the District of Columbia from Feb. 13-15 to discuss the issue with Sens. Roger Wicker and Thad Cochran as well as Reps. Steven Palazzo and Gregg Harper.
Some of the same county representatives also met with those legislators in October about the same issue, Lumpkin and Holliday said.
“I feel like we’re doing some good,” Lumpkin said about making legislators aware of the issues Pearl River County Hospital and other rural hospitals are facing.
“I think it’s going to happen because it’s important for (adequate rural) healthcare,” Holliday said, referring to grandfathering in all current CAHs under the new definitions.
“Some people are critical of the hospital and what we do, but if we’re going to have economic development…you have to have healthcare; it’s critical to us,” he said. “As long as I’m supervisor, we’re going to have a hospital in Poplarville.”

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About Julia Arenstam

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