Supervisors to hold meeting to start hospital management shift

Published 7:00 am Saturday, December 21, 2019

Pearl River County Board of Supervisors and Forrest Health are planning to finalize the lease for the Pearl River County Hospital and Nursing Home during a public meeting set for Thursday Dec. 26 at 9 a.m.

The Board made a motion to enter into the lease and engage Forrest Health to take over day-to-day administration of the hospital on Dec. 12, according to previous coverage.

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Currently, the hospital is run by a Board of Trustees who are appointed by the Board of Supervisors, according to previous coverage.

After the two entities finalize the lease, the Board will have to notify the state, which is a 30 to 45 day process, said County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin.

The target date for the administrative change is Feb. 1, Lumpkin said.

Lumpkin said the Board decided to enter into the lease because they are concerned about the long-term stability of healthcare for the county as a whole and within the north end of the county.

“The Board felt like the best thing to do is to do something now. It’s not that we’re fixing to go bankrupt tomorrow,” Lumpkin said.

He said the Board was concerned because other rural Mississippi hospitals have gone bankrupt in the past year.

According to previous coverage in June of this year, hospital CEO James Williams told the Board that the hospital was projected to increase revenue in the current fiscal year above its $20 million 2016 revenue, after a drop to $17 million in revenue in 2017. 

When asked by the Item about the current financial state of the hospital, Lumpkin declined to comment.

“I don’t want to comment on any of that. I think the Board has looked at this and studied it, and we feel like this is the best thing for us long term,” Lumpkin said.

According to previous coverage, Williams told the Board in June that the hospital still owes $3.2 million of a $5.9 million debt to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, due to unethical money management by previous hospital administrators back in 2011.

Lumpkin said the Board has tried to get those funds back, including meeting with a congressional delegation and meeting with state auditors, but they do not foresee any of the debt being forgiven.

A call to the local CMMS office for comment as to whether the debt would be forgiven was not returned by press time Friday.

A civil suit was filed in 2013 by the hospital against 12 defendants that claimed the defendants defrauded the hospital and Medicare, according to previous coverage.

No criminal charges were filed, said Lumpkin, and the civil suit was settled in the 15th Circuit Court.