Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi unveiled its new location with an official ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday.
The five-story, 602,831-square-foot facility is set to open at 5 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 25, on Belk Boulevard in Oxford. The $300 million hospital will include larger patient rooms, an expanded emergency department, additional surgical suites and operating rooms and advanced technology and equipment.
“We were able to make some changes that reflect new technology but also increase the comfort of our patients and their families,” Bill Henning, administrator and CEO of Baptist North Mississippi, said. “We’ve increased the size of the emergency room and the (intensive care unit), and we’ve improved the design for the access to outpatient services and procedures.”
He said the hospital has increased its number of operating rooms and introduced new technology.
“So much of the technology is really designed around patients’ needs going forward, particularly information technology, infrastructure and the ability to really expand our capabilities,” Henning said.
Henning, whose role was to oversee the project and facilitate decisions that would keep the project on time and in budget, said the ability to build a new building from the ground up offered the opportunity to build a hospital Oxford and the surrounding area truly needed.
“Ten years ago, our current hospital was dealing with the challenge of being landlocked, with no room to expand and operating in a facility that was designed 30 years ago,” Henning said. “But sometimes challenges bring unique opportunities.”
Increased privacy for patients and their families is also an aspect that the 217-bed hospital is proud to have updated.
“Our hospice rooms now include adjoining private family rooms so the patient’s family can be with their loved ones in a more comfortable setting,” Henning said.
Although the patients and physicians will be moved to the new hospital by the end of November, the hospital’s current building, located on South Lamar, will not be left vacant. The university purchased the current hospital building to address space allocation challenges and projected growth needs.
The recent growth in Oxford and Lafayette County is one of the primary reasons why the new hospital was needed.
“As growth has continued to go, this facility was just the next iteration of what was necessary to take the best care of the community,” Jason Little, president and CEO for Baptist Memorial Health Care, said.
While the town’s growing population proved it was necessary to expand the hospital, Larry Little, the president of the Board of Directors for Baptist North Mississippi, said the building would not have been possible without the strong leadership in the Oxford community.
“We are part of a community that moves forward in a manner that is not typical of other communities of our size,” Little said. “We’re not a confluence of any great waterway like the Mississippi River. We’re not at any great railway crossing like in Memphis. We’re not at the crossroads of any major interstate system, but what we lack in geographical location we gained in leadership.”
Mayor Robyn Tannehill said she believes the new hospital will be a great addition to not only the Oxford community but also the rest of north Mississippi.
“In my opinion, Oxford is the crown jewel of Mississippi,” Tannehill said. “Oxford, Lafayette County and the University of Mississippi are leaders in state growth, in quality of life, in public educations and certainly in healthcare.”
She said she sees the hospital as a gift to the community, and that it will bring a new era of patient care to Oxford and the region.
“(The hospital) represents the single largest economic development in Oxford and Lafayette County ever,” Tannehill said. “It represents job opportunities, expanded care for all of our citizens, and it represents a commitment by Baptist Memorial Hospital to provide the best health care there is to offer our citizens.”
Jeff Busby, the president of the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors, shared similar admiration for the new building.
“This hospital will be a great asset to Oxford and Lafayette County for many years to come,” Busby said. “It will be the new standard for health care in our region and a vital economic development component that we will all benefit from.”
The new hospital will also be used as a tool to bring more physicians into the area.
“It’s going to allow us to recruit additional physicians and provides the ability to provide better access for patients,” Henning said. “This really provides the infrastructure to be able to meet the needs of the community as health care changes over time.”