GREENWOOD - As the Greenwood Leflore Hospital circles the financial drain, those that hope to save it scramble to do anything they can to keep it open.

Doctors call it "literally a matter of life and death:

But the road to saving the hospital has proven winding and bumpy.

With the help of our news partners at The Taxpayers Channel, the Delta News looks in-depth at this problem, the roadblocks and the struggle for solutions.

"Leflore County needs help, you know?" Congressman Bennie Thompson talked to voters in Greenwood about the town's dying hospital.

"I think it's not only in the hospital's best interest to say look we need to get together and we need to figure out how we're gonna do it, but we need to do it so I don't have both hands tied behind my back," he said.

That apparently wasn't the case at this event in April, when the Greenwood Leflore hospital put its best foot forward to the U.S. Agriculture Secretary, Congressman Thompson and others.

Weeks later, it stumbled, and the million dollars it got through the federal program announced here apparently evaporated into a massive debt that kept getting bigger by the day.

Overnight this medical showplace became a giant money pit, cost cutting followed, clinics closed... CEO Jason Studley walked out... then a sewer problem almost did closed the place down.

Hospital leaders hoped for a rescue from the already troubled University of Mississippi Medical Center... but progress came slow...and shrouded in secrecy.

"You know, in order for me to help, you gotta show me the finances, you know what I'm saying? I'm just not gonna sit right down with snakes," said Thompson to a Greenwood voter's group.

Requests for a rumored lease proposal from UMMC brought chaotic and contradictory responses from the Leflore Chancery Clerk and the Greenwood City Clerk.

Finally Mayor Carolyn McAdams revealed the city DID have a lease proposal but couldn't release it.

This letter from the city attorney cited several reasons why the city didn't have to give up the documents.... even though it certainly had the right too.

Even UMMC refused to reveal it's plan to the public. UMMC had apparentlly already begun calling the shots, moving childbirth services to its Grenada campus.

So out of that dense fog came news that UMMC had refused to take on the hospital's multi million dollar debt, what's more, UMMC demanded muli million dollar repairs to the building. Grand total: 9 million dollars.

Then came the bombshell: that 9 million dollar problem presented a roadblock in finalizing a deal before the hospital ran out of money... currently projected for the end of November.

Greenwood quickly ponied up it's half in an irrevocable letter of credit.

But when County leaders met for the same reason... more chaos.

First came disclaimers that Leflore Supervisors had no warning and no control over the hospital's death spiral.

" I tell you what if we had this kind of support at the beginning it sure would have been nice. but we didn't have no support. We didn't run the hospital into the ground. We didn't do it, not us," said board president Robert Collins.

"I'd like to state for the record that the board of supervisors we're working to do everything that we can to keep our hospital open and to keep our employees working," explained Supervisor Reginald Moore.

Then supervisors did something that seemed to ensure big trouble for a UMMC rescue.

They approved a resolution to pony up their half of the 9 million needed, but insisted on striking UMMC's name from the document.

"what I'm trying to do is not be committed to UMMC" said Supervisor Eric Mitchell.

"The reason why I was saying to leave this blank, and we can insert any entity. I'm not saying we don't want UMMC, but we can say if UMMC walks away that line can still be blank for any entity that's willing to come in and save our hospital," said Moore.

"Everybody is focused on UMMC coming in, we need to be focused on what if UMMC don't do this deal then what we gonna do?" asked Collins.

Unfortunately, critics fear that very move may have given UMMC an excellent reason to walk away... making what some call the county's blank resolution, a self-fulfilling prophecy.

So this recipe of secrecy, chaos and confusion, say many, seems to create more doubt and fear.

Congressman Thompson says, give him a little sunshine... and maybe he can help seal some kind of deal to keep this dying hospital alive.

"So once I look at the finances, and how we went from full to empty, then there's a path we can chart a way forward," said Congressman Thompson.

But the question now.... is it too late for even that?

It's impossible to tell... with most everything going on behind closed doors, and public officials and the rest of us, apparently kept in the dark.

By the way, the Delta Health flagship hospital in Greenville is also having financial trouble. It closed The Delta's only neonatal intensive care unit, amid mounting debt.

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