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Baptist, UMMC to Receive $2 Million Each in State Funds for Burn Centers

By Devna Bose

Mississippi Today

Dr. Derek Culnan talks about the Mississippi Baptist Medical Center being designated as a Level III trauma and primary pediatric center and a Mississippi burn center on Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023, in Jackson, Miss. Credit: Eric Shelton/Mississippi Today

State Health Department officials decided to split $4 million in state funds to two Mississippi health care systems vying to open burn centers. 

The decision comes after months of confusion over how the money would be divided after the Legislature gave the Mississippi State Health Department the responsibility of doling out the money designated in House Bill 1626.

The burn center at Merit Health Central in Jackson – then the state’s only such center – closed in October of last year. Ever since, both Mississippi Baptist Medical Center and the University of Mississippi Medical Center have been competing for the title of burn center. 

In the months following the bill’s creation, though, it became clear the legislation allowed for multiple hospitals to be deemed qualified to host a burn center, and multiple hospitals could be eligible for the $4 million allotted by the Legislature intended to defray expenses. 

By July, both facilities had been deemed eligible to run a burn center by the state Health Department, despite apparent gaps in their qualifications at the time, according to reviews of both health systems’ sites. Both have since submitted corrective action plans to address the deficiencies. 

It hasn’t been clear until now how the agency would divide the money. 

The state Health Department notified the facilities of their $2 million allotment each last week, a spokesperson for the agency said. 

However, the facilities haven’t gotten that money yet. 

In order to receive it, they have to submit receipts for expenditures associated with creating the burn centers. Once those are approved, the facilities will be reimbursed.

Neither facility answered questions about what the money will specifically go toward, or if the money will be enough to single-handedly fund each burn center. 

UMMC estimates that the cost of constructing its burn center will be $6.3 million, according to the most recent Institutions for Higher Learning board book. 

“We are grateful for this support of our burn center and look forward to receiving the funding to continue our efforts to develop an unparalleled burn program for the region,” said Kimberly Alexander, a spokesperson from Baptist.

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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