Public hearing set for Aug 17 to discuss potential sale of Singing River Health System

Singing River Health System is the second-largest employer in Jackson County with about 3,500 employees.
Published: Jul. 18, 2022 at 1:23 PM CDT
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PASCAGOULA, Miss. (WLOX) - Jackson County residents will get a chance to weigh in on the future of Singing River Health System.

Monday, county supervisors voted unanimously to hold a public hearing on the matter.

Singing River Health System is the second-largest employer in Jackson County with about 3,500 employees. It has locations in Ocean Springs, Pascagoula and Gulfport.

However, its Board of Trustees said the system is struggling financially, especially after losses due to the pandemic. Trustees have already approved a sale, but it’s ultimately up to the county.

“If they truly need that type of support, there’s no way the county can fund it,” Jackson County Chancery Clerk Josh Eldridge said.

Singing River Health CEO Tiffany Murdock addressed the Board.

“As much as y’all have supported us, and we think that, you know, you’ve been great to us, a half a billion-dollar healthcare system, and I think Raymond James said it, too, it’s not usually county supported. That’s just not feasible,” she said.

“It puts into perspective that that industry is something that local government probably ought to not be in to begin with,” Supervisor Troy Ross said.

For the county to keep it afloat, that means raising taxes by up to 75%.

“If somebody else comes in here, they have other facilities they can spread the cost over, you know. So, we don’t,” Board President Randy Bosarge said. “Nonprofit hospitals, they just find their selves in this situation.”

The public hearing approved Monday will be the first step in the process of the sale.

Not everyone is ready to say goodbye to the long-time community health system.

“This thing can be brought back,” Jackson County resident Irby Tillman said.

Tillman, along with Cynthia Almond, are Singing River Hospital retirees. They’re both starting a petition for a public vote. If 1,500 signatures are collected in 21 days, there will be a referendum on the ballot in November.

“It is a county-owned hospital, a government entity,” Almond said. “And we are all owners. Any resident in Jackson County is an owner of this hospital, and we all have a right to say what goes on in it.”

All petitions must be turned into the Jackson County Chancery Clerk’s Office.

The public hearing is set for Aug. 17. It will begin at 6 p.m. in the Board of Supervisors’ meeting room at the county administration building at 2915 Canty Street in Pascagoula.

To view the health system’s financial situation, you can visit Jackson County’s website and find the Raymond James Financial Report.

Jackson County Board of Supervisors President Randy Bosarge spoke to WLOX News ahead of Monday’s board meeting to talk about the potential sale and what it means to county taxpayers. You can watch that interview in its entirety below:

Jackson County Board of Supervisors President Randy Bosarge talks about the potential sale of Singing River Health System, and what it means to county taxpayers

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