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State health department braces for impending hospital crisis

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State health department braces for impending hospital crisis

As the Mississippi crisis worsens and threatens to imminently shutter hospitals in the Mississippi Delta, the Department of Health is taking steps to prepare for the impending disaster.

The , an agency that has been gutted by budget cuts and weakened services over the past decade, was not staffed nor funded to take on the full burden of replacing health care services lost if hospitals close.

But State Health Officer Dr. Daniel Edney recently told lawmakers the department, in anticipation of an increase of health care deserts in the Delta, has begun assessing how it can help.

“We’re studying where health care deserts are emerging or we think they’re going to be,” Edney told members of the Senate Public Health Committee on Nov. 21, adding that the Health Department increasing services is “usually not a good thing.”

“We’re the provider of last resort,” he continued. “We’re there for public health. When you see us in perinatal care, hypertension, diabetes management – that means these communities aren’t being served.”

While more than 38 hospitals across the state are at risk of closing, the Mississippi Delta — the poorest region of the state with already dismal health outcomes — is most susceptible to the crisis. In August, the Delta’s only neonatal intensive care unit in Greenville closed. Greenwood Leflore Hospital has eliminated labor and delivery and other major services over the last several months. Today, the Greenwood hospital’s future is uncertain after negotiations with the to enter into a lease agreement abruptly fell through last month.

Additionally, Sharkey Issaquena Hospital and several other Delta hospitals are in dire financial straits.

A recent report from the Center for Quality and Reform shows that over half of rural hospitals in Mississippi – or 38 – are at risk of closing. The state has the highest percentage of rural hospitals at immediate risk of closing in the nation, and hospitals as a whole are in a deficit of more than $200 million in 2022, according to the Mississippi Hospital Association.

A 2019 report from the consulting firm Navigant revealed a similar statistic as the one from 2022: half of rural hospitals were at risk of closure then, too. But the difference now is the severity of the situation, said Ryan Moore, executive director of the Mississippi Rural Hospital Association.

“Hospitals that were bleeding slowly are now bleeding quicker,” said Moore. “But the underlying problem is still the same.”

A 2019 report from the consulting firm Navigant revealed a similar statistic as the one from 2022: Half of rural hospitals were at risk of closure then, too. But the difference now is the severity of the situation, said Ryan Moore, executive director of the Mississippi Rural Hospital Association.

“Hospitals that were bleeding slowly are now bleeding quicker,” said Moore. “But the underlying problem is still the same.”

With no clear solutions in sight, Edney said the Health Department will do what it can to strengthen the “safety net” in these underserved areas.

“We’ve already got an action plan in place,” Edney told lawmakers.

But when Mississippi Today followed up with the state Health Department and submitted a records request for that plan, department officials responded “… as of now we have no plan on paper.”

Mississippi Today then asked for clarification and details of the plan Edney referenced. A Health Department spokesperson emailed a statement from Jim Craig, senior deputy and director of health protection.

“Our next steps in plan development will be to meet with Delta Community Health Center leaders and coordinate needs and efforts with our Field Services office that coordinates care in county health departments around the state,” the statement read.

Mississippi Today then asked for an interview with Craig or someone else with the department, and the reporter was told she could email questions.

The department said it is “currently evaluating” what services might be needed when responding to a question about whether the focus would first be on the Delta and maternity and infant care.

“Maternal and infant services are one of the service areas we are evaluating,” said Craig in the email.

The state Health Department has closed 10 county health departments in the past decade, nine of which were closed in 2016. It also reduced hours in “several” county health departments around the state, though department officials declined to provide a specific number.

In 2016, it announced it would no longer be providing maternity services at the county health departments.

The Health Department’s mission is to promote and protect the health of . The agency does surveillance for diseases such as West Nile virus, flu and sexually transmitted infections, offers disease and injury prevention programming and information and other public health efforts. It also oversees drinking water testing, restaurant permits and inspections, on-site wastewater and sewage system regulation. It is responsible for licensing and regulating child care facilities, nursing homes, and other health care facilities.

There is no timeline for the implementation of the safety net Edney referred to, the department said.

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

Biloxi VA Medical Center Director is leaving for new role in Arizona- WXXV News 25

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Biloxi - Local News Feed Images 011

www.wxxv25.com – WXXV Staff – 2022-12-07 17:25:31

It was an emotional day for Gulf Coast System employees as they said goodbye to their medical center director.

Bryan Matthews, medical center director, will be departing Friday to take on his new role in Phoenix, Arizona working at their veterans center.

Under Matthews’ leadership, there have been many accomplishments the healthcare center has celebrated which include a new simulation lab, established a tele-audiology program, and more.

Matthews, who usually does not stay longer than two years in the same place, has stayed on the Coast for five…

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Twelve Mississippi hospitals earn ‘A’ rating from hospital safety group

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Twelve Mississippi hospitals earn ‘A’ rating from hospital safety group

The nonprofit Leapfrog Group released its hospital safety grades for the fall of 2022, and 12 Mississippi hospitals –including the financially troubled Greenwood Leflore Hospital – received an A rating.

The grade, which is assigned to about 3,000 general acute-care hospitals across the nation twice a year, is based on how hospitals and other organizations protect their patients from errors, injuries, accidents and infections. The score comes from hospitals’ performance on more than 30 national measures from the Centers for Medicare and Services (CMS), the Leapfrog Hospital Survey and other data.

The ’s largest hospital and only academic medical center scored a C for the fourth year in a row.

No Mississippi hospitals received an F grade, and one hospital received a D: Merit Health . Each grade is based on hospitals’ performance in five categories: infections, problems with surgery, safety problems, practices to prevent errors, and doctors, nurses and hospital staff.

“Taken together, those performance measures produce a single letter grade representing a hospital’s overall performance in keeping patients safe from preventable harm and medical errors,” its website states.

According to the group, 250,000 people die each year from preventable errors in hospitals.

Here is the of grades for Mississippi hospitals:

Graphic by Bethany Atkinson

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

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https://www.biloxinewsevents.com/?p=198134

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