Deadline approaches for bids on new Picayune hospital

PICAYUNE, MS (WLOX) - By Danielle Thomas – bio | email

PICAYUNE, MS (WLOX) - Contractors have until Tuesday to get their bids in to build a multimillion dollar hospital in picayune. By the Spring of 2012, plans are to move Highland Community Hospital from its downtown location to a new 120,000 square-foot facility off Highway 11.

Nurses at Highland Community Hospital say it's an honor to serve the people of Picayune.

"I really feel like I can make a difference. I feel like I make a difference here every single day with my patients," said nurse Bria Goff. "Because I don't come up here just for the money. I come up here for my patients."

Even with Highland's dedicated staff, hospital officials say 64 percent of area residents go to either Slidell or Hattiesburg for medical treatment. The reason is largely because Pearl River has a primary care doctor shortage.

"What do we need to do recruit physicians to our county?" asked Hospital Administrator Douglas Jones. "One of those things was offer a modern new healthcare facility in order to help us recruit physicians."

"We needed to be able to provide healthcare in a modern environment. The provisions of healthcare has changed over the last 50 years since this hospital was built," Jones said.

Site work has already started on a three-story, 60 bed facility. Officials say expanded emergency room, outpatient care, and obstetrics areas will help better meet the need of patients.

"Provide more effective and efficient care and not to mention trauma rooms," Jones said, "So if we do have an accident on the Interstate or whatever, we will have true trauma rooms in those facilities. Expanded imaging capability. Lab capabilities."

Hospital officials say everything, even the patients rooms, is to make HIghland more family friendly.

"We spent a lot of time designing the inpatient rooms to make sure that there is area for the patient, area for the family members, and area for the caregivers," said Jones. "So we make sure we can provide service to them in a family-friendly environment."

Highland Community Hospital is owned by Forest General Hospital in Hattiesburg. Officials say the current facility is rundown, has limited parking, and it would not be cost effective to renovate or expand.

The expected total cost of the new Picayune hospital is $50 million.

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.