As Mississippi’s hospital crisis persists, Greenwood Leflore Hospital (GLH) is set to go up for lease once again.
According to officials, the Mississippi Delta system’s best-case scenario is to receive critical hospital access status – which means it would be up for more federal funding – and putting the hospital up for lease is a backup plan.
“It’s just a plan B or a backup in case we are not approved for the critical care facility status,” Greenwood Mayor Carolyn McAdams told SuperTalk Mississippi News. “We can’t not have another plan in our basket.”
McAdams added that multiple entities have already expressed interest in leasing out GLH with the lease proposal set to go out on August 29. However, attaining critical hospital access status is still the main goal at hand.
GLH originally applied for critical hospital access earlier this spring, but has faced an uphill battle with stipulations surrounding proximity. The Centers for Medicaid Services (CMS) requires a system to be more than 35 miles from the next-closest hospital. GLH is 28 miles away from South Sunflower County Medical Center, which makes it more difficult for GLH to receive critical hospital access designation.
Gary Marchand, the hospital’s CEO, said the Mississippi State Department of Health has already approved the request but the regional office of CMS has not. If approved, the application will go to the Health and Human Services (HHS) and main CMS office in Washington, D.C.
“The MSDH has approved, the Medicare Administrative Contractor has approved, [and] the application is under review by the CMS Regional Office in Atlanta. The initial review then proceeds to the Washington offices of HHS and CMS for any policy implications,” Marchand said. “We are optimistic a final decision will be announced in late 2023.”
The lifespan of GLH, which currently operates as an acute care facility, has been extended by a $10 million line of credit, in addition to $2.1 million from the Mississippi Hospital Access Program and $722,713 from the Disproportionate Share Hospital Program. GLH is still awaiting nearly $1,000,000 promised through the state’s recently passed $104 million Hospital Sustainability Grant Program.
Although leaders in Mississippi’s health industry continue to fight for full Medicaid expansion as a large number of rural hospitals are struggling financially, Marchand previously told SuperTalk Mississippi News that the idea is “too little, too late” for GLH and critical access status is the only remaining solution.
“We are not aware of any other funding sources that would allow for the hospital to continue in operation,” Marchand said. “The cost protection afforded by critical access status is key to our ability to remain in operation over the short and long term.”
Since the beginning of 2022, GLH has been forced to close a handful of services – including labor and delivery, urology, neurosurgery, and COVID-19 – while laying off roughly 150 employees to cut costs. Officials also attempted to get the University of Mississippi Medical Center to take over, but negotiations came to an end last November.
Marchand said, that as things currently stand, GLH has enough revenue to fund operations into early 2024.