The expansion plans of two competing hospital systems in Mississippi have resulted in local squabbles.
Baptist Memorial Hospital-DeSoto in Southaven, Miss., opposes Methodist Healthcare's $27.3 million project to build a 40-bed hospital on a 71,000-square-foot medical campus in nearby Olive Branch. Located within DeSoto County, the campus will include emergency services, a surgical suite and a neonatal intensive-care unit.
Memphis, Tenn.-based Methodist, meanwhile, is opposing expansion plans by its competitors in its own backyard (See related story, this page).
Methodist's Mississippi hospital, to be located about 12 miles away from Baptist-DeSoto, will serve as a satellite facility to Methodist's five-hospital system in Memphis, about 20 miles away, said David Ramsey, president and chief executive officer of Methodist Hospitals of Memphis. Methodist Healthcare operates 15 hospitals in West Tennessee and Mississippi.
"With managed care in the area, we have a number of employers who have employees that work in Memphis but live in the Olive Branch area," Ramsey said. "A lot of folks are interested in seeing us go there."
Ramsey added that Olive Branch is a strategic location for a new hospital. "DeSoto County is the fastest-growing county in Mississippi," he said. "Olive Branch is one of the fastest-growing areas around Memphis."
Methodist's certificate-of-need hearing, originally scheduled for June 8, was postponed until the week of Aug. 17. That's because a public notice of the hearing was not published in a local newspaper 15 days before the meeting. The hospital had filed for approval in January.
Baptist, on the other hand, is planning its own expansion and contends that its proposal, which was submitted to the state health department in August 1997, will best meet the needs of the community.
Baptist is planning a $40 million enhancement of its existing DeSoto County hospital. The hospital will add cardiac catheterization, heart surgery and women's services as well as nine beds to its current 140 hospital beds.
"We developed a comprehensive plan for health services in this area," said Melvin Walker, administrator of Baptist-DeSoto. "We planned our expansion and increased services based on the identified needs of our population and service area."
Methodist had opposed Baptist-DeSoto's expansion but dropped its opposition May 18-the day Baptist's CON hearing was set to begin-after the health department had recommended an addition of only nine beds instead of the original proposed 33-bed expansion.
In February Methodist bought a 40-bed license from a Hollendale, Miss., hospital that has been closed for almost 10 years. Its application to the health department requests moving those beds out of Hollendale to Olive Branch, Ramsey said.
"We were concerned that all potentially available beds (in the area) would be consumed by Baptist Hospital in De-Soto," Ramsey said.
Methodist also hoped that by dropping its opposition to Baptist's proposal, Baptist would reciprocate, Ramsey said.
"We are hopeful that perhaps they'll drop opposition to our certificate of need as well, but they haven't as of yet," Ramsey said last month.
Baptist executives said they expect to hear from the health department about final CON approval by late June.
Despite its opposition to Methodist's expansion, Walker said Baptist will not belabor the issue.
"We're supporting our own application, which meets the needs of citizens in our area," he said. "We're concentrating on our plan and what we can do. We're not concentrating on what someone else may or may not do."