UPDATE as of 5:59 p.m.
MARIANNA, Fla. (WMBB) — An earlier version of this story contained information that referenced, “city and county officials.” For clarification, Jackson Hospital Board Member Keith Williams was referring to Jackson County Chamber of Commerce officials, not Jackson County Board of County Commissioners. In addition, our reporting staff used video of the Jackson County Board of County Commissioners’ offices and board room. We have replaced that video in our story. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused.
MARIANNA, Fla. (WMBB) — Behind Jackson Hospital is an abandoned elementary school.
Last December, Marianna city officials had given the school property to the hospital, so they could transform it into an outpatient surgery center.
“In order to develop it and prevent it from becoming an eyesore for the city and the county. We enjoy our partnership with the city. We enjoy our partnership with the county,” said Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Jackson Hospital.
But before Tuesday’s city commission meeting, Williams said he was shocked to find out the city and county are allegedly partnering with a private entity to bring in another outpatient surgery center.
“Why is the city and the county asking us to compete with them and a private enterprise for the dollars that we need to take care of them?” said Williams.
Williams said in the last fiscal year, the non-profit hospital has taken care of about 3,800 patients and written off $12 million in debt from treating uninsured patients.
He believes a for-profit outpatient center would cost the hospital as much as $5 million per year in revenue, and further harm their ability to deliver care to the people who can’t pay for it.
City and county officials refused to comment on Williams’ claims because they said they are bound by non-disclosure agreements.
“I don’t have a problem with economic development entities using non-disclosure agreements. They’re necessary. But when we’re not asked to be a partner at the table for that economic development it makes it difficult for us to fulfill our mission,” said Williams.
Williams said he can’t comprehend why the city of Marianna and Jackson County officials thought this would be a good idea.