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franklin county times

Newton hospital eyes new location along I-20

By Staff
BUILDING PLANS – Timothy W. Thomas, Newton Regional Hospital administrator, stands in front of the existing downtown hospital building as he looks over plans for a new medical center planned for north of Interstate 20. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By William F. West / community editor
Jan. 14, 2003
NEWTON After 52 years in downtown, officials at Newton Regional Hospital want to move into a larger building north of Interstate 20 where they can handle more outpatient care.
Timothy W. Thomas, Newton Regional administrator, said the structure was supposed to last about 40 years.
Plans call for increasing the hospital from 40,000 square feet to 50,000 square feet. The new hospital would cost $6.7 million, have 30 beds and be built across from the Lay-Z-Boy plant on Highway 15 North.
The hospital has requested a $6.5 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A public hearing on the request is set for 1 p.m. Thursday in the Simmons Dining Room at the hospital.
The hospital also needs final approval by the Mississippi Department of Health. No date has been set for that Thomas said the expansion request is under review by the agency.
Newton Mayor Hamp Beatty said the current hospital remains a busy one.
Located at 208 S. Main St., the hospital has 49 beds but averages no more than 12 in-house patients. It has four other patients housed in a special ward for the elderly.
However, Thomas said, the hospital handles about 750 outpatients a month and about 400 monthly visits to the emergency room. He said it also has a clinic manned by four doctors who see about 1,200 patients a month.
Thomas said he would like to break ground on the new hospital in the summer and finish it in about 12 to 16 months. He said the current hospital then would be converted to a community health center.
Newton Regional Hospital is a nonprofit organization with a board of directors and about 150 employees.
Thomas said the hospital does not compete with the area's larger hospitals which have intensive care units and conduct many in-patient surgeries.
He said the hospital is required to conduct the Thursday public hearing because it is seeking financial help from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development agency.
Nick Walters, director of USDA Rural Development in Mississippi whose office would distribute the money said enhancing rural health is one of his agency's top priorities.
Here is a look at a proposal to build a new hospital in Newton.
The plans: Hospital officials want to relocate Newton Regional Hospital from downtown to just north of Interstate 20.
The loan: Newton Regional is requesting a $6.5 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The hearing: The hospital is hosting a 1 p.m. Thursday public hearing on the loan request in its Simmons Dining Room.