Henry County Medical Center’s board of trustees met in special session Thursday to hear the latest on the coronavirus, then went into executive session for 72 minutes to discuss “marketing strategies.”

When the board returned to public session, it adjourned within 5 minutes, and took no action on what was discussed.

After the meeting, board chairman and physician Scott Whitby said the hospital has a staffing crisis, with so many employees leaving for higher-paying jobs in Jackson and elsewhere that it’s reduced HCMC from a 50-bed hospital to about a 30-bed one.

CEO Lisa Casteel later said the executive session included discussions on additional staff the hospital will be hiring.

The session also featured talks about  crisis pay being instituted for employees who spend their entire shifts taking care of COVID-19 patients.

Earlier, she said HCMC has six positive patients, one on a ventilator and four possible cases pending test results.

The hospital has opened a COVID unit to assist CCU.

The state says Henry County now has 307 confirmed and probable cases, 167 of which are active and 139 recovered.

Figures from the state are also back to showing Henry County with one coronavirus death. That figure doesn’t mean the patient died in Henry County, just that the person was from here.

Casteel also told the board “we are close” on recruiting a new general surgeon and will begin interviewing a good slate of applicants immediately for the vacant job as chief financial officer.

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