The head of Greenwood Leflore Hospital said the hospital is working with the city, county and members of the business community to secure the funding needed to keep the hospital open through the legislative session.

In the meantime, the hospital has announced it will close the Greenwood Pulmonology Clinic and the Greenwood Primary Care Clinic as of Nov. 30. The hospital has recently laid off as many as 80 employees and shuttered services including its labor and delivery unit.

The 208-bed hospital is currently operating with a total of 18 inpatient beds.  

Interim Chief Executive Officer Gary Marchand said the hospital’s long-term hopes hinge on legislative action and gaining federal Critical Access or Rural Emergency Hospital status. Hospitals with these designations receive enhanced federal payments for certain services among other benefits.

“The legislature will have the opportunity to address a proposed increase in hospital funding for Medicaid and uninsured patients that will help protect the hospital’s cost structure,” Marchand wrote in a memo to employees Thursday. 

Though Marchand declined to specify what proposal he was referring to, Richard Roberson of the Mississippi Hospital Association said he was likely referring to an item on the Mississippi Hospital Association’s legislative agenda: additional funding from Medicaid to hospitals. 

Hospitals in Mississippi currently receive payments beyond the base rate for Medicaid called “supplemental payments.” These include disproportionate share payments intended to offset hospitals’ uncompensated care costs and improve access for Medicaid and uninsured patients as well as protect hospitals’ finances. 

Roberson, the association’s vice president for policy and state advocacy, was not able to provide further details on the amount and type of supplemental funding being proposed on Thursday.  

In the meantime, the hospital is working with the city, county and business community to shore up funding.

The move comes after months of negotiations with the University of Mississippi Medical Center ended abruptly earlier this month. Hospital officials said at the time that without an agreement with UMMC to lease the hospital, it could close before the end of the year.

Dr. Alan Jones, associate vice chancellor for clinical affairs at UMMC, said the agreement was not possible due to several factors, the primary one being “the current realities of health care economics that all health systems are facing in this challenging environment.” 

This year is on track to be the worst financial year for health care systems nationally – driven mainly by the labor shortage and the increased costs of employing expensive contract nurses.

UMMC reported a more than $8 million loss in its first quarter of this fiscal year, according to a presentation made by its Chief Financial Officer Nelson Weichold. 

More than half of Mississippi’s rural hospitals are at risk of closure, new data from the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform shows. The state has the largest number of rural hospitals at immediate risk of closure in the nation at 24.

Editor’s note: Kate Royals, Mississippi Today’s community health editor since January 2022, worked as a writer/editor for UMMC’s Office of Communications from November 2018 through August 2020, writing press releases and features about the medical center’s schools of dentistry and nursing.

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.