From staff reports
With the Winston Medical Center continue to serve Winston County through its temporary site, plans are underway to rebuild Winston Medical Center with
several contingencies to work out.
WMC CEO Paul Black recently discussed the plans at the July 23 Rotary meeting while Black and foundation board officer Lex Taylor discussed with the Winston Medical Foundation board on July 8 meeting the plans for the future as well as insurance coverage and the seeking of Critical Access Care designation for the hospital.
The foundation meeting began with a welcome from Medical Foundation President Lex Taylor. Taylor informed the board members that with all the things that have transpired since the storm, the meeting would be a good opportunity to update the board members on the status of recovery. Taylor also wanted the board members to hear directly from the Executive Committee who has been handling the recovery process about the chronology of the events that transpired, as well as the events going forward regarding the future of Winston Medical Center.
Taylor also wanted the board members to take this opportunity to ask the Executive Committee any questions they may have. Taylor continued with praise of the Executive Committee and Winston County Medical Center CEO Paul Black for all of their hard work and leadership in this trying time. Taylor then asked for the board members to review the minutes and asked for a motion to approve them. A motion was made and it was approved unanimously by the board.
Next, Taylor stated that the main business on the agenda for the meeting was discussing the process of the recent events. He began by giving a timeline of the events of the day of the storm regarding the staff at WMC, including the evacuation of the building, the transporting of patients to other facilities, the emergency plan executed by the WMC staff, and other details.
Taylor then went on to describe the status of the Medical Campus. “Essentially, the campus has been devastated,” Taylor said. “Every building on the campus has been completely destroyed or damaged. We feel like it is going to be a total loss.”
Next Taylor discussed the insurance regarding the hospital and campus. “We have not yet received the opinion, the final say so from the insurance,” Taylor said. He also went on to go into detail of the insurance policy with the board members, including explaining the policy limits. “We have total policy with Traveler’s Insurance,” Taylor said.
“We got Traveler’s coverage for all the buildings that are $23,073,880. The contents coverage is $6,090,000. And we have a $7,500,000 Business Interruption Policy as well,” Black responded.
“We are waiting to hear how much of that we can touch,” Taylor said. “We feel like it will be policy limits. I will say this, that we are actively involved in taking down the Business Interruption portion.” Black expanded on the details of the insurance.
“We have that $7.5 million dollar limit, and we have already received a $1 million dollar advance of it,” Black said. “So we have been using some of those funds.”
Black went on to explain in detail how the amount they will receive will be based upon the difference in revenue and cost incurred during the storms. Black stated that they would soon be meeting with the representatives of the insurance company to work out the details of the Business Interruption portion of the policy.
Taylor noted the insurance company was still examining the buildings on the campus. He explained that some of the wings of the nursing home were being rebuilt. Taylor explained that if they could bring these wings back to operational, they could have at least 78 residents back. The hospital is hoping to have those areas back ready to serve the community on October 1.
“Let’s do what we can to get those two wings back up and operational,” Taylor said. Working on this construction is Yates Construction. However there has been a delay with the construction. Delaying the construction of the wings was the issue of mold mitigation. The goal is to accept patients by October 1 according to Black at the Rotary meeting.
Taylor also explained how when they hired Yates for this job, they made another discovery. “We found out there were companies out there in America that immediately come to communities where schools, hospitals, and public entities have been destroyed,” Taylor said. “They contract themselves out as an advocate of a particular entity to negotiate with the insurance company to optimize and maximize every opportunity to get the maximum coverage from insurance.”
Taylor then explained how Yates offered these services besides their construction portion, and retained this service to give an evaluation of what the actual damages are and assist with maximizing the insurance coverage.
The next topic Taylor discussed was employment. “We had to lay off around 130 of our employees,” Taylor stated. “We have been able to retain about 125 of our employees. How we did that was through the services of the State of Mississippi, the governor of Mississippi, and the State Department of Health.”
He then discussed the temporary hospital located on South Church Avenue, and how it is ready for business at this time. Taylor encouraged all board members to let everyone in the community know that it is available to them at this time. The opening of the temporary hospital allows for employment. He also gave the board members an update that the hospital will soon be receiving a new doctor within the next few weeks. (See article on Page 2 of today’s edition about Dr. Gentry.)
Taylor noted that they are also working with FEMA to tackle the damage and see what insurance will cover and what it will not.
Both Black and Taylor at the two meetings illustrated that the hospital was seeking Critical Access Care designation from Medicare to insure improved reimbursements on future care. To be recognized as a critical access hospital. Winston Medical Center can meet the main requirements except the located more than a 35-mile drive from any hospital or critical access hospital or located more than a 15-mile drive from any hospital or other CAH in an area with mountainous terrain or only secondary roads.
The location of the former hospital may have to be examined to qualify for the CAH or WMC receive the designation without the mileage requirement.
With the determination of the CAH from federal officials still unknown and the insurance’s finalization of the policy incomplete, some of the plans for the hospital are on hold but both Black and Taylor noted that Winston Medical Center will be rebuilt “better than ever” and with a vision of the future in mind for Winston County.
The present hospital is serving patients at 923 South Church Avenue behind the old Spartus Building that Teter’s Floral Products now occupies. Winston Medical Clinic is the first building next to the parking lot. The ER and Outpatient Admissions are located behind Winston Medical Clinic-Main Campus. For billing and other administrative services, Winston Medical Center-Admin Offices are located at 826 South Church Avenue. They are conveniently located behind the FEMA/MEMA Office.