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Local medical clinics change ownership

Two Picayune medical clinics are changing ownership. One will be coming under the Highland Family umbrella in January, while the other recently became part of the Ochsner Health system.

Dr. Walter Gipson, FNP-BC Nanci Parish and FNP Melissa Floyd will continue to work at the family practice clinic at 1702 Highway 11 N., but beginning in January instead of being part of a different physician group, the clinic will be renamed Highland Family Medicine Clinic and be under the Forrest Health System. When the clinic changes employers, it will also change phone numbers in January.

Another family medical clinic, Riser Medical Associates, located in Picayune at 2274 Highway 43 South, has also changed ownership, going from an independently owned practice to part of the Ochsner Health system in early December. Another Picayune medical practice, that of Dr. Lopez-Santini, also became part of Oschner several months ago.

In the last 20 years, three independently owned medical clinics in Picayune have become part of the Forrest Health System, which operates Highland Community Hospital and entered into an agreement with the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors to manage the Pearl River County Hospital and Nursing Home earlier this year. This trend is common in today’s healthcare industry as administrative and logistical burdens in healthcare increase, said Highland Community Hospital Administrator Bryan Maxie.

“COVID-19 adds another layer of difficulty to operating independently,” he said.

The biggest challenge in managing a transition in clinic ownership is logistical: updating computer systems, phones, lab procedures and equipment to match the rest of the larger health system, said Maxie. While patients at the new Forrest Health owned clinic will have access to the same providers, they might need to request medical records from the previous clinic owners, said Maxie.

Forrest Health also took over administering services at the Pearl River County Hospital and Nursing Home in February. The facilities are still owned by Pearl River County, but Forrest Health is responsible for the administration. Since Forrest Health took over management of that facility close to the start of the pandemic, some renovation plans have taken longer than expected, said Maxie.

“Renovation plans, things of that nature, upgrades, things we want to do with the physical plant, were all slowed down with COVID coming on and our attention being focused on dealing with the COVID outbreak and care of those patients,” he said.