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Southern Regional CEO will address hospital’s financial needs at forum Saturday

Jim Crissey

Jim Crissey

JONESBORO — A group of community activists will partner with Divine Faith Ministries International this weekend to raise awareness about issues facing Southern Regional Medical Center.

JE Group LLC and the church, 9800 Tara Blvd. in Jonesboro, will host a “Save Southern Regional Hospital” meeting Saturday at 1 p.m. The town hall-style forum will feature Southern Regional CEO Jim Crissey, who will talk about the hospital’s financial situation.

Crissey and other hospital officials are asking voters to approve the proposed 2015 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, whose project list includes $50 million in bonds to keep Southern Regional afloat. If voters approve the SPLOST, the bonds will be used to buy the hospital facility and lease it back to Southern Regional.

Hospital officials said they need long-term financial support of the hospital to keep it open. They have said they are in this position because of a federal mandate that requires the hospital provide care to anyone brought into its emergency room, regardless of ability pay the medical bills. That mandate is causing them to operate at annual loss of millions of dollars.

Crissey has pledged to cut expenses at the hospital in an effort to help cut its debt. Several positions at Southern Regional were eliminated earlier this year as part of that effort.

The SPLOST vote will be held as part of the May 20 primary election.