HMA plans second hospital in Biloxi, north of the Bay

Health Management Associates, the firm that operates Biloxi Regional Medical Center and 66 hospitals nationwide, announced plans today to construct a second hospital in Biloxi, a $132 million state-of-the-art facility that will be in Biloxi Commerce Park, north of the Bay of Biloxi.

The new hospital would replace Gulf Coast Medical Center, a west Biloxi facility that HMA shuttered after it was severely damaged in Hurricane Katrina.

The announcement about the replacement hospital was made today at a 35-acre site near Cedar Lake Medical Plaza in Biloxi Commerce Park, a sprawling commercial area a block south of I-10 off Cedar Lake Road.

Joe Pinion, who oversees HMA’s 10 hospitals in Mississippi, said the firm had intended to re-open Gulf Coast Medical Center but decided to move 6½ miles northward after years of thorough review. Among the factors: the Gulf Coast Medical Center site being 300 yards from the beachfront, the loss of patient base near that site, and the current and future healthcare needs of Biloxi and the surrounding area.

Said Pinion, “The age of the former facility, the cost of repairs and the migration of Harrison County residents to north of Interstate 10 made it economically infeasible to operate the hospital in its old location and made it clear that relocation was necessary and in the best interest of the Biloxi community.”

Mayor A.J. Holloway, who gathered leaders and healthcare representatives to share the news, was elated with the development.

“This is a significant investment in our healthcare and our economy,” Holloway said. “It’s new jobs and new tax dollars. It’s an expansion of our tax base. This new hospital will attract more businesses and families to our community. This will help us continue our rebuilding efforts.

“This is good for you and me, our children and our grandchildren.

“The people of Biloxi are fortunate that we already have one great hospital. Now, we’re better covered on both sides of the bay, with Biloxi Regional downtown and this new facility north of the Bay.”

HMA said the proposed site for the 144-bed replacement hospital will be in an ideal location with easy access for patients and emergency services, and safe from the flood zone. It is also more conveniently located to the majority of Biloxi’s population, which has shifted north in recent years.

Health Management has submitted a Letter of Intent to the Mississippi State Department of Health, starting the Certificate of Need process that is required to build a replacement hospital. This process is expected to take four to six months. If approved, the new facility is expected to open by June 2014.

More online

Picture this: To see dozens of photographs from the ceremony this afternoon, click here.

The online future: Health Management Associates has set up a website — — with detailed information about the proposal announced today. The site also provides a chance for online visitors to ask questions and sign up for progress reports. To go to the site, click here.