Greenwood Leflore Hospital has resumed most of its services after being largely closed for three days due to a clogged sewer line and its aftermath.
However, it still does not admit patients for overnight stays. The closure of inpatient wards is seen as a possible cost-cutting measure to buy the financially-struggling hospital for a while while it pursues a lease deal with a larger medical facility.
The hospital said in a statement Thursday that it had received approval from the Mississippi State Health Department to resume normal operations.
The hospital had implemented a major shutdown on Monday following a sewer line clog that caused what was believed to be human waste and other sewage to backflow into crawl spaces. under the older half of the 208-bed facility. Although the clog was cleared on Monday, the hospital was largely emptied of patients and staff due to the possibility that noxious gases, primarily methane, could drift into the hospital via the five cages of elevator where moisture from the sewage leak was detected.
The hospital said in its latest statement that the building had met air quality safety standards throughout the week, that cleaning efforts had been completed and that its plan to address contamination in the underground crawl spaces had been approved by the Ministry of Health.
On Thursday, the hospital resumed outpatient surgeries as well as outpatient radiology and laboratory tests. Clinics inside the hospital have also resumed normal operations.
During the three-day shutdown, the hospital kept its labor and delivery unit open as well as the emergency room for walk-in patients. Clinics outside the main hospital building also continued to operate as normal.
After releasing or transferring all hospitalized patients on Monday, the hospital decided, at least temporarily, to continue diverting anyone requiring hospital care to other medical facilities. This means no overnight surgery is scheduled and the intensive care unit is closed.
“Further analysis is needed to determine, with labor shortages and higher labor costs, how we can continue to operate while remaining viable until a lease is terminated. finalized,” the hospital statement read.
The hospital is under increasing financial pressure and is seeking proposals from another medical facility to resume operations under a long-term lease.
The deadline for submissions is August 31, but it is expected that it could take until December for a lease to be finalized. There are growing concerns about whether the hospital has enough money to last that long. All of its normal reserves have been depleted and any operating deficits are now covered by the approximately $7 million remaining in advance Medicare payments the hospital received in 2020. These Medicare payments are in the form of a loan, however, and that pool of money could run out as early as October, depending on the hospital’s recovery schedule and current loss trends. The hospital lost $12.7 million in the first 10 months of the current fiscal year, even after using $9.2 million in mostly coronavirus relief grants.
Earlier this week, Gary Marchand, the interim CEO, said he was confident the hospital would be able to stay in business until a lease could be finalized. He said, however, that the situation may require the further shutdown of some services.
Earlier this year, the hospital closed its pain clinic and its urology clinic is expected to close at the end of this month.
It was unclear what impact the loss of inpatients might have on nurses and other staff who worked in those areas of the hospital.
“Further analysis of the reopening of hospitalization areas will need to be carried out to determine staffing needs in the future. We expect to complete this next week,” said hospital spokeswoman Christine Hemphill.
Staff from the hospital’s Incident Command, who handled this week’s emergency, said in the prepared statement that they were “grateful to the hospital employees for all they have done and their patience while we worked on this sewer line event.” He also thanked the businesses, government entities and ambulance services that helped resolve the crisis as well as the hospitals that accepted the 17 transferred patients to their facilities.
“It was definitely a team effort,” said Key Britt, the hospital’s vice president of administrative services and incident manager. “We have so many people to thank for their support and partnership.”
– Contact Tim Kalich at 662-581-7243 or [email protected]