Stone County Hospital and Memorial Hospital at Gulfport have come to an agreement on lease terms and, as of Nov. 1, the facility will be known as Memorial Hospital at Stone County.

Ted Cain, who has owned and operated the hospital since 2001, said the timing was right.

“Memorial was in the market and I’d come to a position with the hospital where it needed to change,” he said. “They were just recognized as the top regional hospital in Mississippi and I think they’ll be a great fit with this community.”

Memorial will lease the facility, along with the clinic and nursing and rehabilitation center, for 10 years with the option to renew the lease in two more 10-year increments.

The lease also has a two-year opt out if Memorial chooses.

Cain warned that the Stone County community needed to get behind the hospital and invest their healthcare dollars locally.

He said the hospital cannot be seen as just a place to go in an emergency.

“It’s not going in the back [where the ER is located], it’s coming in the front and getting your primary care and long-term care right here,’ he said. “If the community doesn’t support these physicians, the hospital won’t survive.”

Stone County Hospital had been closed for more than a year – and that was the third closure over a 10-year span – when Cain purchased it.

Chas Pierce, a senior director with Memorial, said his organization saw Stone County Hospital as a good fit.

“Memorial’s always been a big player in the market in driving healthcare,” he said. “We have more than 100 clinics on the coast and we’ve traditionally served the three coastal counties and we wanted to expand and provide healthcare in all six coastal counties.”

Cain said Memorial had provided him with a verbal agreement to keep all employees who wanted to stay under the new management.

Stone County Hospital Clinic will become Memorial Stone County Medical Center as of Thursday while the nursing and rehabilitation center will be known as Memorial Stone County Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, also effective Thursday.

Memorial also added Woodland Village Nursing Center, another Cain business, as Memorial Woodland Village Nursing Center. That change became effective last Sunday.

Memorial will also continue to operate the Stone County Hospital Ambulance Service.

“We’re still looking at what will be done with the ambulance service,” Pierce said. “We have no intentions of taking that away.”

Pierce said he wasn’t sure the residents of Stone County were entirely aware of what a good thing they had with a hospital in their community.

“We’re looking to build on what’s there today and take it to the next level,” he said.

Now listed as a, “rural critical access,” hospital, Stone County Hospital was reimbursed at an advantageous rate for serving an underserved community.

That is about to change.

“What we will be doing is setting it up as an, ‘acute,’ hospital,” Pierce said.

That will have several impacts, one of which will be to allow the hospital to expand beyond its current 25-bed limit.

“We’ll be seeking accreditation from what was known as the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations,” Pierce said. “They are now known simply as, ‘The Joint Commission.’”

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