Madison County needs nearby hospitals

By MICKEY WALLACE,

I find it both bizarre and unrealistic that in 2017 Madison County now has a population of between 95,000 and 105,000 individuals and yet has only one tiny hospital which sits in a rural area that the large majority of citizens cannot find or use.

Meanwhile the major health care providers, St. Dominic and Baptist Systems, have no facility for emergency health care, ICU or surgical services in Madison. The obvious reason is a state certificate of need law which prevents them from building a much-needed hospital facility.

Any efforts to build such a facility has been fought in the legal halls with the state Board of Health as referee. Either the certificate of need statute should be done away with or modified so that more than 100,000 souls can have health care without a long drive through snarled traffic.

Clearly lives have been risked or lost, or certainly placed in jeopardy, simply because of this degree of travel and distance in time of need.

This situation does not exist in any other area of the state. Nearly every county in Mississippi of at least 10,000 people has a hospital. Madison County, with 100,000 souls, is also among the wealthiest top three counties in Mississippi.

The stark reality of this "health care crisis” and health risk to its citizens is absurd and appalling. It can take 15-20 minutes to simply reach the major transportation corridor off I-55 from 75 percent of homes in Madison County, much less travel another 15 miles to a major hospital.

Death from a major injury or cardiac event occurs in the first hour nearly 85-90 percent of the time, and Madison County residents lose 50 percent of that time traveling.

At the same time, new healthcare buildings continue to be built far away from where the people are. Millions of dollars are being spent in the midst of Jackson, despite its dwindling of population. Baptist Systems spent more than 20 million dollars in the past three years on State Street building pristine new structures where few people reside. Logic has clearly been lost and public concern treated with disdain, while these archaic health care laws are still on the books.

 

At this point in time, with even more population growth ahead, both Baptist and St. Dominic could easily survive with each having a Madison County above-average size facility. I say let them both build a facility and let quality of care and economics rule. It is the American way to have economic competition. It is their money, let them spend it. The real winner will be the immediate health care of 100,000 taxpayers. At this point the current status makes absolutely no sense under any argument.

 Mickey Wallace has been a Northsider for the past 35 years.