In a 3-2 vote, the Greenwood Leflore Hospital Board voted to hire Redmond Design Service LLC out of Memphis to survey employees as the first step in developing a brand for the hospital and a marketing plan to advertise that brand to the community.

Board Chairman Sammy Foster and members Freddie White-Johnson and Emma Bell voted to spend $8,250 for Redmond staff to spend 30 hours at the hospital interviewing employees about their views of the hospital and soliciting success stories to determine what attracts people to the hospital. The proposal calls for Redmond to be paid $275 an hour for the research.

“I think his presentation, if it works, if he does what he says, it’s going to be a good thing for the hospital,” Foster said. “And if it doesn’t work, that $8,000 is a drop in the bucket (compared to) what we have wasted over here for some time in marketing.”

Board member Harris F. Powers Jr. opened discussion of the matter by stating his opposition to Redmond’s proposal.

“I don’t think Redmond is qualified,” he said. “I think he put on an excellent presentation, but we do not need to be his first hospital.”

“I think he has done a wonderful job in other places I’ve seen his work,” Bell countered.

“But he has not done a hospital,” Powers said. He was joined in his remarks by hospital Chief of Medical Staff Raymond Girnys, who said developing a marketing plan for a hospital has to be “a little more subtle” than plans for other companies and institutions.

“He may have not done a good presentation,” Foster said. “This is not going to be the whole program. He only gave us a bid for one specific thing he was doing. He gave us a total that was only $8,000, and we’ve been paying out 200 and something, and $300,000 to people that we weren’t getting the results.”

Redmond told the board in a presentation last month that his company hadn’t represented a hospital before but has done work for Mississippi Valley State University, Jackson State University, a church in Southaven and a program to attract minorities to take part in clinical trials.

Besides the $8,250 to survey employees, Redmond didn’t address any costs associated with developing a brand, building a marketing plan and buying media to advertise the hospital.

Hospital CEO Subho Basu suggested the board solicit proposals from at least one other marketing firm to compare with the Redmond plan. Instead, White-Johnson made a motion to approve the Redmond marketing contract for a two-year period. In addition to Powers, Marcus Banks voted against the contract.

In other business:

• The board discussed whether the hospital should find a location to reopen a holding unit for psychiatric patients who enter the hospital through the emergency room. The hospital had a holding unit but closed it in 2017 when it was found not in compliance with The Joint Commission, an accreditation and certification organization.

“I know we’re not a psych hospital,” Foster said. “I’ve been told that. I know that. But that doesn’t change the fact that when they come to the ER, you can’t say, ‘Oh, you’re a psych patient, go home.’ They’re going to end up in this facility, on the floor, loose.”

Gloria Boyd, chief nursing officer, said the hospital attempts to place apparent psychiatric patients at behavioral health centers in Batesville and Jackson but can’t always place them. When they can’t be transferred, the patients are then admitted and assigned a one-to-one sitter to observe them.

She said the holding unit that was closed in 2017 needed to have all “ligature risk” removed, meaning anything in the unit from which suicidal patients might be able to hang themselves.

Key Britt, vice president of administrative services, said the unit was in need of about $750,000 in changes. She suggested the hospital could look elsewhere for a suitable location for a holding unit.

The discussion ended without conclusion.

• The board discussed its air-conditioning replacement plan with Bob Byrd, an engineer with Design Build and Engineering Services LLC. The board voted last month to put out bids for the estimated $1 million project.

• Contact Gavin Maliska at 581-7235 or gmaliska@gwcommonwealth.com.

The original version of this article incorrectly reported the estimated cost of correcting deficiencies in the psychiatric holding unit.

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