By CARL SMITH
OCH supporter Frank Davis says tonight’s pro-hospital educational session will present residents with a crystal-clear picture about what having a community-oriented health care system really means to the area.
Tonight’s educational session, scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at the Greensboro Center, will feature Davis, OCH CEO Richard Hilton, other top administrators and hospital trustees. Last week, Hilton said he intends to highlight where the hospital came from, its current situation and its vision for the future. Davis said administrators are also expected to clear up rumors circulating about the hospital’s services and finances during a 20-30 minute presentation.
“I hope everyone can leave with a real understanding of what we have in our backyard in regard to our hospital. We want to hit a home run with this (presentation),” Davis said. “It’s one of the biggest decisions that (the county) can make. To have five men make that decision … I think it’s important to let the citizens decide for themselves.”
Tonight’s pro-OCH session follows a similar educational session held Monday which featured Richard Cowart, Baker Donelson Health Law Department chairman. In front of a packed county courthouse audience, Cowart told the stories of Lowndes, Forrest, Lafayette and Lee counties, and the individual decisions and investments each county made to develop and grow health care.
Both Cowart and District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer handled sharp comments from the crowd, a scene Davis says he hopes does not occur tonight.
A public question-and-answer session will follow Hilton’s presentation.
“It’s important to let everyone have a chance to speak and ask questions, but we want our discussion to remain civil,” Davis said. “(Public turnout) depends on the weather (today). If this rain moves out, I’ll be happy if we get 250 (attendees).”
After tonight’s presentation, Davis said residents will have an opportunity to sign a petition against any hospital transaction if they wish to do so. Davis began a door-to-door petition drive in June and collected signatures from residents who are against any type of transaction.
Grassroots volunteers have collected almost 1,000 signatures, Davis said. If the board of supervisors chooses to pursue a hospital transaction, signatures from 1,500 qualified county voters could push the issue to a November referendum.
“We just want people to understand this hospital has deep roots in our community,” Davis said.
Last week, Hilton said the grassroots movement sparked naturally from citizens’ concern and without any OCH input or guidance.
As the conversation regarding OCH’s future continues, Hilton has said he plans to take a more-active role in the discussion.
“What I’ll do from (July 12) on is I will talk to any group that wants to hear about the hospital and any information regardless of how big or small the group. It’s the appropriate thing to do; I’m the voice of the hospital, and the trustees have gone on the record as being opposed to the sale. They have instructed the administration to oppose the sale in any way we can,” Hilton said last week.
The entire Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors was present for Monday’s meeting and are expected to be in attendance tonight.