Natchez Regional officials to make counter offer

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NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) — Adams County and Natchez Regional Medical Center are making a counter-offer to a potential buyer of the county-owned medical center.

The decision came Wednesday after the members of the hospital board and the board of supervisors met with Healthcare Management Partners CEO Scott Phillips. Phillips was hired to help sell the hospital

Phillips told The Natchez Democrat (http://bit.ly/LKep09 ) he could not discuss the specifics of the offer or who made it.

"We have an offer on the table," Phillips said. "The board authorized me to make a counter-offer. We remain hopeful the deal will close to take care of the liabilities of the hospital and provide for the continuation of viable medical services for Adams County."

Phillips said giving information about the array of bidders would not help the hospital's ability to negotiate.

"It is not helpful to do this publicly when you are in a negotiation," he said. "It doesn't facilitate the process to arm your negotiators with your strategy. This is a pretty normal process. They want to pay less, we want them to pay more, but we are not very far apart."

The effort to sell the hospital began in July, when — at the county's behest —The Horne Group released a feasibility study recommending the hospital be sold, based in part on studies of patient outmigration to other, regional health care systems.

Selling the hospital will also help recruit needed physicians to the area if the hospital is part of a wider health care network, administrators have said. A commitment to bring more doctors to Natchez is one of the negotiating points of the sale.

Phillips led NRMC in 2008 when the hospital was in bankruptcy, and a move to sell the facility at that time was unsuccessful.

NRMC opened in 1960 as Jefferson Davis Memorial Hospital. Its $2.4 million construction was underwritten by an $800,000 local contribution and state and federal funds.

It has been financially independent since 1974 and does not receive tax support, but is backed by a 5-mill standby tax that the Mississippi Development Bank required the hospital to get in 2006 when it asked for the MDB to reissue its revenue bond.

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Information from: The Natchez Democrat, http://www.natchezdemocrat.com/

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