By Daniel Brunty
The Winston County Journal
The Winston County Board of Supervisors came to an agreement with the Winston Medical Foundation regarding the construction of a new hospital during their
regular meeting held on August 4 at the Winston County Courthouse.
The meeting began with the board members being addressed by County Engineer Jimmy Kemp. Kemp informed the board members that finalization for the Mt. Calvary-Rural Hill Road project needed authorization for the board to sign the agreement. A motion was made and it passed unanimously for the board to sign on behalf of the county.
The board also spoke with Carnette Hudson of NFUSION. Hudson was on hand to inform the board members that their organization would soon be hosting an event titled “Stop the Violence”. The event will be held on August 23 at the J.L. King Center Park in Starkville. Hudson stated that members of the organization came together to take a stand against violence with the gathering, in hopes of starting open conversation about the effects of violence has on their everyday lives.
Hudson also asked the board members if they could send one of the supervisors to the event to represent the board, as well as asking for the board to possibly sponsor or make a donation to the organization. The board took the offer under advisement.
The board went into executive session with Winston Medical Center Interim CEO Paul Black regarding ongoing negotiations between Winston Medical Foundation and the Board of Supervisors. After an hour of being in executive session, the meeting was again open to the public. Board attorney Hugh Hathorn gave a summary of the events that occurred during the executive session.
“We have had some ongoing negotiations between the board and the Winston Medical Foundation,” Hathorn said. “The hospital is a county-owned facility, but it has been leased since the early 90’s to the Foundation, which is a non-profit organization. The lease agreement had some language in it that essentially says if the facility is damaged or destroyed; the Foundation can nullify the lease.”
The board and Foundation continued to negotiate until they came up with a solution. “For the last few weeks, we have been negotiating with the Foundation a Memorandum of Understanding that expresses the intention of all parties to rebuild the hospital,” Hathorn said. “We are now at the point we are ready to adopt the MOU with just one little clarification that we are waiting to discuss with the hospital attorney. Subject to that, the board is going to adopt the MOU with the hospital that outlines the responsibilities of the county and the responsibilities of the Foundation to work toward rebuilding the facility.”
Hathorn also discussed another topic covered during the executive session. “The board will also take action, as the hospital has received one interim insurance check that is payable to the Foundation, the county, and a couple of financial institutions,” Hathorn said. “We are going to take action to endorse that check over to the Foundation this morning.”
Next, the board asked for Black to give everyone an update on the status of the hospital and nursing home, hoping to disperse any rumors that are passing around the community. “Where we are at this point, there has been a lot of talk about what is going on with the hospital, and honestly right now, there is no plan,” Black said. “What we are doing here is looking at all of our options, and so the things that you hear about in the community such as moving the hospital various places around the county, that is just us exploring our options to help us decide what is in the best interest of the hospital as it pertains to the citizens of Winston County.”
Black also mentioned why there are some delays. “One of the issues that we are dealing with are some reimbursement issues that could be beneficial to the hospital in the long term, and that is where moving the hospital site comes into play,” Black said. “There are some guidelines that have to do with CMS that we have to meet to get that reimbursement.”
Black also mentioned the nursing home, which was scheduled to re-open September 1, has been delayed until October 1. Black also mentioned that negotiations to have the Dialysis Unit repaired are in progress.
With so much still in the air, Black is hoping that all funding will arrive soon to get all these projects done. “We have to find out how much total money we will receive from FEMA,” Black said. “Once we do that then we can start making permanent plans. As soon as we have a plan, we will let everyone know. We got more questions right now that need to be answered than we do answers.”
Black also informed the board members that he will make his best effort to attend the first Board of Supervisors meeting every month to give the board members an update on their progress.
The board then made a motion to sign the Memorandum of Understanding, pending approval by attorneys from the Board of Supervisors and attorneys for Winston Medical Foundation. The motion passed unanimously. The board also made a motion to endorse the interim insurance check. This motion also passed unanimously.
In other news, the board:
•Approved minutes from July 21 meeting
• Approved claims docket
• Approved payroll claims docket
• Tabled acknowledgement of completion of Hughes Debris Removal contract and release bond (more review of documentation needed)
• Approved chargebacks for 2013 Homestead Exemptions
• Tabled discussions regarding invoices from Hughes Construction, ARX, and Broaddus (more review of documentation needed)
• Approved payment to Jerry Thomas for equipment, and demand check for payment
• Approved the installation of “No Loaded Trucks” signs on Mt. Calvary Road
• Approved to pay the City of Louisville Solid Waste Bills by invoice
• Approved acceptance of grant awarded to Fire Department for $25,000 worth of radios with a 5 percent match ($1,280). Matching funds to be paid from Fire Code funds.
• Approved acceptance of a grant for two storm shelters for $3,500.
The Winston County Board of Supervisors will have their next meeting on August 18 at the Winston County Courthouse.