Hancock Medical getting facelift

By Al Showers - bio | email

BAY ST LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - Hal Leftwich is the Hospital Administrator at Hancock Medical Center.

"We've come a long way in three and a half years. So things are much, much better than they were at the end of 2005," Leftwich said.

Overall, medical activity at Hancock Medical Center is up to about 80 percent since the storm, and most of the displaced staff doctors have either returned or been replaced.

Leftwich said, "We have great, great family practice and internal medicine physicians, fantastic general surgeons. Our specialist are all back in every area except orthopedics; we're trying hard to work on that one."

The hospital is functioning with fewer beds than it had before Katrina.

"We had 104 beds prior to Katrina. Right now, in the Rev. Johnson Tower, we have 47 beds in operation which is about half our bed count," Leftwich said. "As the community has gotten bigger we've added beds from 25 right after Katrina to 47 now. After the reconstruction we'll have all 104 beds back in operation. "

The reconstruction is a 15 million dollar project that will give the entire first floor of the hospital a facelift.

Leftwich said, "That will give us an expanded and redesigned emergency department, larger operating rooms in the surgery suites. We'll re-do all of the patients' rooms. We'll have a revamped out-patient area, so it will be easier for out-patients to come in and get services, too. We will be a brand new facility when it's done."

The work is expected to start in early summer and finish in about two years. It is being funded by FEMA. Leftwich says there are more and more patients without health insurance.

Before Katrina, about eight percent of hospital care ended up being charity, because of an inability to pay. Today, that number has more than doubled to 18 percent, and that is double the national average.