Future of Hancock Medical could be in jeopardy

Future of Hancock Medical could be in jeopardy
In 2014, the hospital entered a management contract with Ochsner Medical. That contract comes to an end, with the possibility of renewal, in February. (Photo source: WLOX)
In 2014, the hospital entered a management contract with Ochsner Medical. That contract comes to an end, with the possibility of renewal, in February. (Photo source: WLOX)
One of the main suggestions given by the consultant was that the hospital should narrow its field of medical procedures. (Photo source: WLOX)
One of the main suggestions given by the consultant was that the hospital should narrow its field of medical procedures. (Photo source: WLOX)

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - The future of Hancock County's only hospital could be in jeopardy. A presentation Wednesday laid out a bleak future for the medical facility. This presentation sparked tense conversation about change.

Hancock Medical Center has been treating patients for more than 50 years. But a presentation showed that the chances of another 50 look slim unless something changes. If the hospital stays on its current path, according to consultant Scott Phillips, it will soon struggle to keep its doors open.

"My feeling right now is very, very concerning because of the economic impact it could have on our county, short term and long term," said Hancock County Board President Blaine LaFontaine.

According to Phillips, the hospital saw an operating loss of more than $5 million in 2015. In 2014, the hospital entered a management contract with Ochsner Medical. That contract comes to an end, with the possibility of renewal, in February.

For Board of Supervisors President Blaine LaFontaine, this means it's crunch time.

"So we've got a short window to gather input, gather data and make a decision about what the fate for our hospital is moving forward," said LaFontaine.

According to hospital staff, the partnership between Ochsner and the hospital hasn't panned out as they anticipated it would.

"I think it's been slow. The progress has been slow," said Dr. Noel Duplantier.

"It's not working. It was a great concept, but it's not working," said Dr. Dimitri Yanez.

He had several complaints about the hospital's current operation. For one, he said business was leaving.

"We've seen our patients siphoned off back into the Ochsner system in Louisiana. We're losing our patients," said Dr. Yanez.

Hospital CEO Alan Hodges said anytime that's happened, it hasn't been intentional.

"What we want to do if you're sick and you need care and we can't provide it at Hancock Medical Center, we want you to get that care that you need," said Hodges.

This policy could mean going to another medical facility. But going forward, Hodges is confident that the future looks bright for Hancock Medical.

"I think we just have to decide what we want the hospital to look like," said Hodges.

One of the main suggestions given by the consultant was that the hospital should narrow its field of medical procedures. He said this would help the hospital find focus moving forward in a changing medical environment.

The Board of Supervisors committed to meeting with the hospital Board of Trustees to talk about ensuring Hancock Medical's future.
    
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