News Article Details

NMMC-Tupelo closing skilled nursing unit, community health; shrinking mental health center

Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal - 8/30/2017

Aug. 30--TUPELO -- North Mississippi Medical Center-Tupelo is closing its skilled nursing unit and community health department and scaling back its inpatient mental health center as it seeks to offset reduced revenues.

The cuts come a week after NMMC-Tupelo revealed it was losing $1 million a month because of reimbursement changes from Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi and filed a breach of contract lawsuit in Lee County Circuit Court. Hospital leaders announced efforts to cut $31 million in expenses, citing $54 million in reduced revenue from Medicare over the past five years and looming cuts to federal funds designated to offset uncompensated care.

"These weren't easy decisions, but we had to remind ourselves that we come here every day for one reason only, to take care of our patients," said NMMC-Tupelo president David Wilson in a statement released Thursday night. "We are strong in quality and service. We need to be equally strong in financial performance in order to continue to provide the best care."

The Skilled Nursing Facility, a 20-bed unit, provides care for patients who no longer need hospital level care, but still need assistance they can't receive at home. The unit inside the main hospital primarily provides care for patients with simple fractures or joint replacements, general debilitation, post-op cardiac surgery, and stroke or brain injury.

The changes do not affect the NMMC Rehabilitation Center, which provides acute rehab services.

Patients who need skilled nursing care will now be referred to skilled nursing or swing beds at other NMMC locations. It will close when the current patients are discharged.

"The services available at our skilled nursing facility could be offered more cost effectively at another one of our locations," Wilson said.

The NMMC Behavioral Health Center, located on Eason Boulevard, will scale back from 37 to 30 operating beds. The center, which is licensed for 66 beds, cares for those with severe and debilitating depression, self-destructive dependence on drugs and alcohol, and persistent psychological troubles.

"Behavioral health was a challenge, because the market doesn't have an alternative provider, and behavioral health resources are precious to our health care system and our community," Wilson said.

The four-person Community Health department, which coordinates health fairs, community education events and smoking cessation classes, will close in early September.

"All the employees affected by these changes are being given the opportunity to transfer to comparable positions," Wilson said. "Our human resources team is working with them to identify new opportunities within our system."

michaela.morris@journalinc.com

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(c)2017 the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (Tupelo, Miss.)

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