The board of directors of Magee General Hospital and the board of trustees of Covington County Hospital announced the collaboration of their hospitals through the execution of an administrative services agreement. This collaborative agreement will allow these two rural hospitals to work together to share the benefit of best practices, to evaluate strategies for enhancement of care coordination between them and to identify opportunities for lower cost through shared services and expertise.

Under the collaborative agreement, the administrative leadership of Magee General Hospital will be provided by Gregg Gibbes, Covington County Hospital’s current Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Gibbes will be serving as the administrator for both hospitals. The agreement will take effect April 15.

“As recent publicity has shown, the financial stability of rural health care in Mississippi is rapidly declining, placing many of our Mississippi rural hospitals at risk.” said Benny Hubbard, Chairman of the Board of Magee General Hospital. “As leaders, the members of our Board of Directors have recognized the need for bold action to maintain safe sustainable health care in our Magee community. Our collaborative agreement with Covington County Hospital is one of those bold steps. This agreement will help both of our hospitals identify innovative ways to improve our offering of healthcare services for the benefit of patients and our adjacent communities.”

Future cooperative ventures could include specialty physician services, electronic health record implementation, support services, care coordination and population health management.

“Contrary to speculation, this collaboration is not an acquisition of Magee General Hospital by Covington County Hospital,” said Robert Johnson, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Covington County Hospital. “Our focus is to work together with Magee General Hospital to meet the healthcare needs of our communities in more efficient and sustainable ways.”

Magee General Hospital is a 64-bed facility, which has operated independently for more than 70 years. Covington County Hospital, in existence since 1951, operates independently as a 25-bed Critical Access Hospital with a 60-bed nursing home, five rural health clinics, an Adult Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) and ambulance service. For Mississippi rural hospitals operating independently from larger health systems, the future is challenging.

“The survival of independent rural hospitals demands collaboration,” said Gibbes. “This is the first step toward long-term sustainability of rural healthcare in our region. I look forward to working with these two rural hospitals and leading this important effort.”