Two of Mississippi's largest medical establishments say a partnership would improve medical care in the state.

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UMC, HMA Exploring Partnership

By Daniel Cherry | Published 04 Dec 2011 11:08pm | comments

Two of Mississippi's largest medical establishments are exploring a partnership. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how officials say the affiliation would increase the number of doctors and improve the quality of care provided in the state.

The University of Mississippi Medical Center is in talks with Florida based Health Management Associates exploring a partnership. HMA owns ten hospitals in the state. Dr. James Keeton is the Dean of the Medical School at UMC. He says the school is growing and future doctors need places in state to complete their on-the-job residency.

"We can't live alone on this property here. Every academic medical center in America, there are 135 of them, are doing what we're doing. They're collaborating and getting close relationships with other health care delivery systems."

Mississippi has a severe doctor shortage, and now hospitals have to entice doctors to locate in the state. Kace Ragan is with HMA in Mississippi. She says the idea is if students complete their medical education in state, they'll be more likely to stay when they begin practicing.

"Hopefully this kind of conversation will bring about a situation where we don't have to have as many of those conversations with outside medical centers. We're kind of home-growing doctors here."

HMA hospitals would be able to send patients to UMC for specialized care at facilities like the Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children. Dr. Tom Joiner is the President of the Mississippi Medical Association. He says there is a need for more access to care, but he has concerns for doctors like himself who run small practices.

"We've paid for our bricks and mortar so to speak and we pay for our help, and then a large organization comes out and makes a big change like this, your question is, 'Are they going to start competing with me? Are they going to locate next door to me? How is that going to affect me?'"

Officials say it will be months before any plans are finalized.

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