Efforts are being made to generate more funding for one of this area's largest employers. East Mississippi State Hospital is the third largest employer in the Meridian area. As with other state agencies, it's facing budget cuts next year. In all, state lawmakers are proposing a $2.5 million cut in its budget. In response, administrators are working on ways to fill the gaps.
'If we can collect the money that's not a problem, but if we can't collect, that $2.5 million will probably cause us to reduce some of the services that we provide to the community.'
Charles Carlisle is the director for East Mississippi State Hospital. Even if state lawmakers decide to reduce funding for the hospital, he's working on a plan in hopes of softening the blow.
"One thing that we're trying to do is to be joint commission accredited. If we have joint commission accreditation we will be able to collect more money from medicaid and probably from medicare. By being able to collect that money it takes some of the burden off the general tax dollars that we're using."
Currently, about 1/4 of the hospital's $65 million budget comes from private and medicaid collections at its two nursing homes.
'At the nursing home it's already certified, but here on the main campus we're not. So, if we get joint commission accredited, then we'll be able to bill for additional dollars.'
Carlisle is asking the accreditation commission to conduct a survey of East Mississippi State Hospital. If that happens within the next six months, the results could be available by the end of this year.
Of the four state psychiatric hospitals in Mississippi, East Mississippi State Hospital is the second largest. Serving individuals from 31 counties, it is the third largest employer in the Meridian area. In fact, the economic impact that the hospital has locally is $127 million a year.'
'There's no cure for mental illness right now. Hopefully, one day there will be. I'd like to see us put out of business one day because there's a miracle cure, but there's not. So, as long as we have mental illness we have to be able to take care of it.'
East Mississippi State Hospital has 1,100 employees. Each year it serves 800 patients on its campus.