Harrison County Supervisors Talk About Selling Memorial Hospital - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

02/26/03

Harrison County Supervisors Talk About Selling Memorial Hospital

Two supervisors say they aren't sold on the idea of Harrison County's only public hospital becoming a private facility.

Harrison County owns Memorial Hospital in Gulfport jointly with the city. Gulfport council member Billy Hewes says that selling Memorial would generate enough funds to ease the city's money woes. However, some supervisors worry about problems such a move could create.

District one supervisor Bobby Eleuterius says Memorial Hospital in Gulfport probably writes off more medical expenses than any hospital in the state He says it's in the millions. If Memorial were to be sold, he worries about what would happen to those people who need health care, but can't afford to pay.

"Where would they go? That's a good question," he said. "I don't have an answer. They'd probably have to go somewhere in New Orleans and they may not get the service that they need."

Since Memorial Hospital is self-sufficient, board of trustee member David White says he sees little reason for selling the hospital.

"The hospital costs no tax payer dollars to citizens. Why would you want to disrupt that and take a chance of Harrison County and Gulfport having to pay for indigent and charity care? We take care of poor people that can't pay for their health care," White said.

Gulfport city council member Billy Hewes sees things differently. Hewes has said publicly that selling the hospital would bring revenues his city desperately needs. Other elected officials disagree.

"I think that there are other ways to solve our money problems," district 5 supervisor Connie Rockco said. "I think that selling our assets, and that is a great asset our community hospital, is not really a quick fix."

Although it is uncertain what will fix Gulfport's financial problems Rockco and Eleuterius say for now putting up a 'for sale' sign next to the emergency sign is not an option they'll consider.

Rockco says she has some ideas about how improve the area's financial situation. Rockco says she would like to see services in the county and cities restructured and consolidated. She also wants more accountability for how tax payer dollars are spent.

by Danielle Thomas

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