KPC Promise Hospital in Vicksburg is now closed, and the former medical director said community members are already feeling the effects.
The 35-bed, long-term care facility had leased space on Merit Health River Region’s main campus since 2018.
“It’s just been a month, but it’s already taking a toll on families,” the former medical director Dr. Torrance Green said, adding that he’s heard anecdotally that ERs and ICUs in Vicksburg are now backed up, which he directly tied to KPC Promise’s absence in the community.
KPC Promise cared for people who had been in a hospital but needed further care than is available through home care, a nursing facility or a rehabilitation center. Many of the people they served were ICU patients who were not progressing swiftly enough, Green said.
Their patients, people who needed extended pulmonary, neurological, trauma and geriatric care, received daily monitoring from a physician and 24-hour coverage by licensed nurses and respiratory therapists, which offered complex wound care, extended IV and other therapies, in addition to respiratory support.
The hospital was officially evicted on June 8.
As of January, the hospital was behind on rent by about $1 million. Despite a payment plan and two checks totaling more than half a million dollars, according to Green, the larger health system followed up on its plans to terminate the hospital’s lease.
Hospitals across the state are closing their doors, and those that aren’t are shuttering service lines and laying off staff to stay open. A report from the Center of Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform says a third of Mississippi’s rural hospitals are at risk of closure.
Green said the closure will end up costing Mississippians.
Merit’s decision to evict the hospital came as a surprise to KPC Promise CEO Kerry Goff and Green, who previously told Mississippi Today in May that it was “very disappointing.”
In a statement released in May, Goff said the hospital was looking into legal options and trying its best to stay open, while Green maintained optimism about coming to a resolution.
“I thought we would have been able to find a better resolve,” he said when reached by phone on Tuesday. “It just didn’t pan out the way we wanted it to.”
According to Alicia Carpenter, Merit’s marketing director, the hospital discharged all its patients prior to its last day in the space. Green said the last few patients they had went to Greenville, Jackson and local facilities in Vicksburg.
Carpenter also said several Promise employees accepted positions at Merit, though Green refuted that.
“The compensation packages just weren’t comparable, so a lot of them ended up having to find temporary work,” he said. “Some folks did find work at clinics in the area.”
Green, a practicing nephrologist, is now spending more time at his clinic in Flowood.
“I just think that we have to be more aggressive about increasing the accountability of our facilities to our communities,” he said. “That link used to be held with the doctors, but now that most of the physicians are employed by hospitals, that accountability has been lost.
“Until we get that back, we’re going to see a lot more of these financial decisions happen without recourse.”