- Associated Press - Thursday, February 27, 2014

OLIVE BRANCH, Miss. (AP) - Thousands of people have sought out treatment at Olive Branch’s new hospital since its opening six months ago this week.

Gary Shorb, CEO of Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare’s new hospital, told The Commercial Appeal (http://bit.ly/MxkNrE ) while more than 1,000 people have been admitted since the first patient was treated Aug. 26, another 14,000 people have registered outpatient visits. And the emergency room is busier than expected - 11,500 visits.

Approved for 100 beds, the hospital opened with 60 ready for patients, with plans to place additional beds within three years. Services include surgery, orthopedics and cardiology. The maternity center opened Feb. 3, and 14 babies have been delivered.

The hospital at Bethel Road and U.S. Highway 78 was the first to open in Mississippi in 25 years. It was at least 15 years in the making.

One of the arguments supporters made to get state approval for the hospital was that patients from northwest Mississippi were crossing into Tennessee for care.

Shorb said the hospital is drawing primarily from a 20-mile radius that includes counties around DeSoto.

Instead of heading to hospitals in Shelby County, Tenn., local residents now are using the new Olive Branch hospital, he said.

Harold Henderson, the Olive Branch alderman who represents the ward where the hospital operates, said he’s getting good feedback about the hospital and he had surgery there several weeks ago.

Henderson said that in the past, he would have had to go to a hospital in Southaven. Instead, his trip to the new Olive Branch hospital took only a few minutes.

Olive Branch officials are now awaiting the arrival of new businesses that are expected to take root along Bethel Road and U.S. Highway 78 because of the hospital opening.

So far, Henderson said, there have been no major announcements. But he said Olive Branch officials expect the hospital to be an anchor for economic growth.

“There are plenty of places out there for people to come out and build,” he said.

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Information from: The Commercial Appeal, http://www.commercialappeal.com