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Trainer scheduling hospital auditor visit

October 16, 2012

District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer says he’s working to bring a financial representative to the next county board meeting for discussions on a potential OCH Regional Medical Center analysis and other recent hospital studies in Mississippi.

The board took no official action on Trainer’s suggestion and has not formally accepted an analysis agreement with any outside audit firm.

Trainer said Barry Plunkett, a representative of the Ridgeland-based Horne CPAs and Business Advisors, is willing to sit down with the board in an upcoming meeting. The next supervisors’ meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. Nov. 5, but an official agenda item for discussion has not been scheduled yet. Horne CPAs handled similar hospital analyses in Greenwood and Grenada.

Trainer repeatedly told a crowd of pro-OCH members Monday a financial analysis is “something not to be fearful of.” Following the meeting, he said an independent financial analysis could be beneficial to the county because it provides a snapshot of current and projected expenses and growth, and could be used to help better the hospital.

“We’re not trying to destroy anything. I really believe we have a lot of potential with health care … if we find the right partner to assist us,” Trainer said. “I think if we stick our heads in the sand, we’re not being good stewards of public resources. We need to look at this from the whole ball of wax and not be sensitive. We need to just lay things out … and have people who can answer those questions before us.”

Trainer also said the board could go into executive session to discuss the sensitive issue because it gives “the opportunity for everyone to say what they want without the fear of backlash,” but other supervisors balked at the idea. Outgoing Board President Marvell Howard said Trainer is entitled to invite Plunkett to the meeting for discussion, but any closed-door meeting would make him uncomfortable.

“This is taxpayer business,” Howard said. “As a supervisor, you can do what you want (regarding a future session with Plunkett), but this will be something that Supervisor Orlando Trainer is doing, not Supervisor Marvell Howard.”

Howard also suggested that Trainer meet with OCH CEO Richard Hilton and the hospital board of trustees to work out any issues he has with health care in the county and develop strategies for improving it in the future.

“I’m not sure if you and Mr. Hilton have sat down and just talked. Maybe you can sit down, talk about some things and express your concerns,” Howard said. “At this point, I don’t see any reason to go full blown with this thing again. Ask them if they can make some things possible that you vision in the future. You might come out with different answers you haven’t heard before.”

During citizens comments, Frank Davis, a representative of a local pro-OCH citizens group, asked Trainer specifically what he thought was wrong or could be improved with the hospital’s service. Trainer alluded to the previous bond issue, saying the hospital has proven it needs a financial partner. By having a partner to continue financial investments and grow the hospital’s services, he said he believes the hospital can keep patients in the county for health services.

“That’s why they came to the public. Maybe there’s a partner out there with more assets,” Trainer said. “There are dollars that are leaving (Oktibbeha County) that we could be capitalizing on … Almost $27 million worth of services were provided to people who lived in Oktibbeha County (by North Mississippi Medical Center).”

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