A pair of informational sessions from two nonprofit hospital systems that have submitted proposals to purchase OCH Regional Medical Center will begin this evening.
North Mississippi Health Services will conduct the first informational session today, with Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation hosting one Thursday. Both sessions will last from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at the Greensboro Center.
Baptist and North Mississippi are vying to purchase OCH outright. Oktibbeha County voters will decide in a Nov. 7 referendum whether to allow county supervisors to move forward with a sale of the 96-bed county-owned hospital.
The informational forums are special-called meetings of the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors, which scheduled the forums last week.
However, Board President Orlando Trainer said the forums will focus on letting the systems present whatever information they want, for the benefit of supervisors and the general public.
“We’ll open up and I’ll introduce the presenter for the evening,” Trainer said. “We’ll allow them to present a free range for whatever information they will have for us. No questions will be taken from the audience from (the) floor, and I’m hoping my colleagues will refrain from asking questions so that way things won’t be slanted one way or the other.”
Trainer said audience members can submit questions, in writing, to representatives of both systems, so the organizations can respond to them directly at a later date.
Baptist, based in Memphis, Tennessee, has 21 hospitals in Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas — including a Golden Triangle facility located in Columbus — along with several smaller clinic operations.
North Mississippi Health Services, with its flagship facility in Tupelo, owns six hospitals in north Mississippi — including one in West Point — as well as more than 50 clinics in Mississippi and northwest Alabama.
With November’s referendum looming, Trainer said he believes this week’s forums are a critical chance to get information about both bidders.
“I think a lot of what they’ll be talking about is their story,” he said. “They’ll talk about their organizations and give us more info than we have now as it relates to both of these entities.”
Alex Holloway was formerly a reporter with The Dispatch.