UMMC physicians will soon perform surgeries and provide in-patient care at Merit Health Madison.
UMMC physicians will soon perform surgeries and provide in-patient care at Merit Health Madison.
JACKSON – A business venture with Merit Health Madison is opening the door for University of Mississippi Medical Center physicians to perform surgeries and provide inpatient post-operative care at Merit Health’s hospital in Canton, effectively expanding UMMC’s adult hospital capacity and operating room availability.

The business venture has been realized through a UMMC-affiliated not-for-profit company, Healthier Mississippi Collaborative, made possible by an act of the Mississippi Legislature in 2017.

The act, the first of its kind in Mississippi, paves the way for the Medical Center to engage in health care-related business relationships with public and private entities. The business venture with Merit Health Madison reflects UMMC’s commitment to caring for the health and wellness of Mississippians by increasing patient access to specialty services provided by the state’s only academic medical center and training opportunities for the next generation of health care providers.

“We’re excited to collaborate with UMMC to bring more health care resources to central Mississippi,” said Steve Dobbs, regional president and chief executive officer of Merit Health, a network of nine affiliated hospitals in Mississippi. “Our facility in Canton has surgical capacity, and our staff welcomes the opportunity to work with UMMC’s surgeons to expand access to care for patients from Madison County and beyond.”

The business venture allows UMMC providers to be more easily accessible, in many cases, by patients and families, said Dr. Charles O’Mara, UMMC associate vice chancellor for clinical affairs. Merit Health Madison “is a beautiful facility that is relatively new and has been very well maintained,” he said. “We’re extremely excited about the opportunity for having it as a venue for providing services and education. We will also have a presence in the adjacent clinic building to conveniently see patients on site.”

UMMC physicians’ initial use of Merit Health Madison’s operating room space is for select short-stay surgical procedures. Moving those procedures to Madison County allows more high-acuity cases and specialty procedures to be scheduled at University Hospital located on UMMC’s main campus in Jackson.

“This collaboration allows the Department of Surgery to expand its capacity at additional locations,” said Dr. Christopher Anderson, professor and James D. Hardy Chair of the UMMC Department of Surgery. “We can now improve patient access to our specialized services in Madison County, which will allow growth of some of our services and foster our building of new surgical specialties.”

“We look forward to working with Merit Health to improve access in Madison County and Canton, and to increase services at the hospital,” said Kevin Cook, chief executive officer of the UMMC Health System. “We’re proud to be serving that community in ways we haven’t in the past.”

The Healthier Mississippi Collaborative is a vehicle through which UMMC can affiliate or partner with private and public organizations, including community hospitals, that seek such a relationship. It also allows the Medical Center to deploy its unique health care capabilities in a more agile and efficient manner, enabling it to lower costs while improving quality of and access to health care.

“We see this as an opportunity to give University Physicians another location where they can practice and train future physicians,” Cook said. “We can bring unique and new services to the community by having our physicians establish practices there.”

“The Merit Health Madison collaboration gives us a site where we can enjoy the efficiencies of a community hospital while preserving and strengthening our infrastructure to care for the most complex patients on the main UMMC campus,” Anderson said.

UMMC leaders say the cost of the business venture with Merit Health Madison is a much lower investment than if UMMC chose to expand its current operating room space or build its own facility to address adult hospital capacity needs.

“We are very constrained on our main campus for operating room space, hospital bed space and ambulatory clinic space,” said O’Mara. “We will ultimately need to build those, but the quickest pathway to achieving increased capacity is to collaborate with health systems in the area that have the space physically available.”