Hospital of Choice

A big year for The MED's big plans.



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Where Coopwood wants to take The MED next may surprise Mid-Southerners used to the notion that it’s struggling or maybe just happy it’s not in the news anymore. After all, he acknowledges, “The beauty of low expectation is that it isn’t hard to beat it.”

The MED’s leadership has very high goals. For starters, they want to be a hospital of choice, competing with other health systems in Memphis, such as Baptist, Methodist, and Saint Francis. “We’re not a step below the other hospitals here, and we can’t be or see ourselves as second class to them,” Coopwood says. “In 10 years would I expect people to drive from East Memphis past some very nice hospitals to come down here to get care?

Absolutely. What we plan to deliver here is something that will make them want to drive past other hospitals, not because they’re bad but because what we’re offering here is worth it.”

The MED is replacing its campus — a notion much larger and more significant than is suggested by six little words. It’s a big endeavor and leadership is currently implementing its strategic plan to get there. “It will be state of the art, second to none in the region,” Coopwood says.

Part of the vision is expanding geographically as well, a plan underlined when The MED purchased a total of 54.5 acres in East Memphis at Quince Road and Highway 385. An outpatient hospital is in the works for the property.

It’s a huge goal, and will be realized in installments and over the next decade or more. “I can’t dream about building a campus I can’t pay for,” Coopwood says. The MED is starting the transition with new and upgraded facilities it is paying for out of its own operating funds, a kind of earnest money statement to the community.

The MED’s leadership has very high goals. For starters, they want to be a hospital of choice, competing with other health systems in Memphis, such as Baptist, Methodist, and Saint Francis.

Ritchey says The MED didn’t solicit funding for the Turner Tower project because the hospital saw it as something like a down payment on the bigger campaign. “As we consider the whole facility that needs to be replaced, we’ll look strategically at what part of the replacement is The MED’s responsibility and what part would philanthropists be interested in being involved with,” Ritchey says.

Coopwood says, “All of these things are lining up: creating a sustainable model; creating an environment where philanthropically they can start looking at it as [ultimately] a $450 million endeavor, what percent of that can we expect the public to participate in because of the importance of The MED to this community; and what are the sources of revenue we need to tap into to make it happen. We are paying for the Turner Tower project out of reserves, and it’s step one of the campus redevelopment.”

Ritchey adds, “We have many philanthropists who find it attractive to get in on the ground floor right now, who like the very ambitious vision, who understand it and want it for the City of Memphis and Shelby County and the region.”

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