Offer made for Natchez hospital

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NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) — The board of directors of Natchez Regional Medical Center will review a proposal this week from a prospective buyer.

"There is some development coming down, and we are going to see what it is. (Someone) has made an offer, but we don't know if we are going to accept that offer," board chairman Rev. Leroy White told The Natchez Democrat (http://bit.ly/1mzl5N6 ).

The potential buyer has not been identified. The hospital is owned by Adams County.

White said the board will meet this week with Healthcare Management Partners Chief Executive Officer Scott Phillips. HMP was hired last July to help facilitate the sale of the hospital.

If the hospital board decides the offer is an acceptable one, the board of supervisors will still have to formally approve it before the sale process can move forward.

Supervisors' President Darryl Grennell said a meeting with the hospital board had not yet been scheduled.

"Hopefully they will let us know something as soon as possible," he said.

The hospital sale process has been limited to that of a so-called stalking horse.

In the stalking horse process, HMP will negotiate a selling price with one of the interested parties. Once that price and any stipulations are decided, the agreement with the stalking horse becomes the base bid for the hospital's sale.

If no one outbids the stalking horse, the hospital is automatically sold to the stalking horse, which would have provided the county with a security to ensure the sale.

Once the stalking horse candidate is identified, the agreement has to be ratified by the board of supervisors. The county has to advertise the sale for 30 days.

During that advertisement period, residents have the ability to file a petition asking for the matter to be taken to a referendum. The petition would require 1,500 signatures.

HMP previously led an unsuccessful stalking horse effort in 2008, when NRMC was in bankruptcy. The hospital has since exited bankruptcy.

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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