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CEO Henning: Baptist building the future of health care in Oxford

Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi Administrator and CEO Bill Henning is proud of the hospital’s past and present contributions to health care in Oxford, and is excited about the future with the opening of a new hospital a little more than a year away.

Henning spoke before members of the Oxford-Lafayette County Retirement Attraction Program recently about those contributions and the hospital’s future plans.

Baptist took over management of what was then called Oxford-Lafayette Medical Center in 1989 and changed the name, and in 2011 took over ownership of the hospital.

“The hospital was designed and built to be very much an in patient-orientated hospital,” he said. “People would come and spend a week here. Today, 95 percent of what we do now, people stay for 18 hours or less.”

Henning said Baptist has been looking at how health care has drastically changed over the last 30 years with new technology and how it’s going to continue to change in the next 30 to 40 years.

“With the new hospital, we’re looking at how do we transform the delivery of health care,” he said. “Are we’re building a facility that can adapt to those changes and adapt to changes down the road? This is something we really take into account on how we do things now, and how we’ll do things 30-40 years from now. Do we have in place the facility and the technology for new procedures we may not even know about yet?”

Baptist employs 1,000 people with more than 60 percent living outside of Lafayette County.

“We are not just a Lafayette County employer, we are a regional employer,” he said, adding Baptist’s annual payroll in 2015 was $57 million. “That’s a lot of money we’re putting into the community.”

Henning said while Baptist knows how good of a job they do for the community, others have started to notice as well.

Medicare.gov recently rated Baptist four out of five stars. Only nine other hospitals in Mississippi achieved four stars. There are only 100 hospitals in the nation with a five-star rank.

“Those are hospitals that generally have very specific services, like burn centers, Henning said.

The new hospital will be 589,000-square feet with five stories and an attached medical office building. Construction continues on time, Henning said, with an expected opening date in November 2017.

The first two floors will be for emergency and outpatient services and diagnostic testing. The ER will be double its current capacity. There will be 217 beds with the possibility of expanding to 250 beds in the future. There will be four hospice-care rooms that include a separate room for family members.

“An important addition is a side door,” he said. “Right now, when you’re discharged, you are taken to the front of the building, in all your glory, to be picked up. Our patient and family committee suggested having a private exit where family members can pick patients up and provide the patient with some privacy.”

The move will take place over several weeks once the hospital is completed, however; patients will be moved in one day’s time, Henning said.

“We’ve hired a company that will help us facilitate that move,” he said. “There’s so much involved, like who do we move first, what patients will be fed breakfast at the current location and lunch at the new hospital, what entrances to use and more.”

The goal is to stop scheduling elective procedures for most of November and get the patient population down to about 50 people before the final move to the new hospital, he said.

Henning said the current hospital is up for sale and several developers near and far have expressed interest; however, no formal offers have been made.