Supes discuss OCH bid proposals

District 3 Supervisor Marvell Howard asks consultant Ted Woodrell if there is a way to relay more information to the public even with the confidentiality agreement during the Board of Supervisors’ special call meeting on Tuesday. During the meeting, the board discussed the OCH Regional Medical Center bid proposals. (Photo by Logan Kirkland, SDN)
Staff Writer

The Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors discussed the OCH Regional Medical Center bid proposals during its special call meeting on Tuesday.

The board was advised by consultant Ted Woodrell to hold its discussion on the proposals in closed executive session, which lasted about two hours.

Once the room was open to the public, a press release was provided on the matter of the proposal discussions.

In the press release, it states the board reviewed and discussed proposals from “nationally recognized non-profit health systems.”

Based on the county referendum on Nov. 7, the proposals establish a basis for continuing discussions with the respondents to achieve a binding agreement.

Listed in the release were objectives and priorities each proposal “adequately” addressed, which included:

• Net proceeds to the County of at least $25 million after paying approximately $35 million in hospital-related bond financing.
• Ending the county tax levy of approximately $1.9 million per year related to the hospital.
• Demonstrated ability to improve the quality of health care in the community.
• A plan to retain existing employees and promote employee retention and stability.
• Commitment to collaborate with the medical staff, employees and the community.
• $20-30 million in capital investments.
• Expansion of clinical services throughout OCH's service area, including primary care, cardiology, mental health and telehealth.

When asked how many proposals were received and who the companies were, Woodrell said it is a part of its confidentiality agreement with the respondents to withhold that information.

Woodrell said the press release should offer the public enough information to make an educated decision when the referendum vote occurs.

“The information is necessary to do a whole transaction, it isn’t necessary to make a decision on what is the best position for the county as far as continuing to be at risk for the hospital from a financial standpoint,” Woodrell said.

Woodrell said the special call meeting was productive and the board received the information well and asked numerous questions.

“We had great discussion regarding the proposals and ultimately the decision to move forward with further discussions,” Woodrell said.

Woodrell referred to the process moving forward as a “big risk” and said the board wants to make sure companies are willing to participate.

“So, we have to offer (bidding companies) protections as well as protect the county,” Woodrell said.

The information the board currently provided for the public will be as much information it will give to the citizens prior to the referendum vote on Nov. 7.

Board of Supervisors President Orlando Trainer said during the board’s discussion, there was not any extreme concern and potential was visible in the presented proposals.

When asked about transparency, Trainer said he was planning on releasing more information for the public, but after signing the confidentiality agreement, the board was limited on what it could provide.

“It was my hope to reveal as much as we could,” Trainer said. “Hopefully, what will happen is people will look at what we did even in the press release and then try to be objective as It relates to this whole process and not make a decision based on emotion.”

Trainer felt people in the public may take certain aspects of the information and exploit any minor flaw in the proposals without looking at the big picture. So, he said it would be best to hold where the board is at now.

Trainer said even though the public may not have all of the information, the release should provide enough pertinent information.

“You may not know ‘the who’ is interested but you can definitely tell who is not,” Trainer said. “It’s not a for-profit entity, so there is not an entity where their main concern is the bottom line,”

Trainer said the board did not come to a decision on which proposal it preferred, but he did say “it was so close.”

“All of the respondents had history of being very successful in health care,” Trainer said. “These respondents, they exceeded our threshold of qualifications and criteria.”