Fence going up around ParkView building

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 9, 2002

Louis Johnson of Jefcoat Fence Company drills a hole for a fence post near the emergency room entrance to ParkView Regional Medical Center on Grove Street Wednesday. Harold McGee of the fence company said that the fence surrounding the closed medical facility will be 6 feet high and topped with a foot of barbed wire. (The VIcksburg Post/C. Todd Sherman)

[08/09/02]The latest visible development at the vacant ParkView site on Grove Street is installation of a chain-link fence that will surround the building.

Work began Wednesday on the fence that was described as a safety precaution by a hospital spokesman.

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“It’s a temporary, security issue,” said Diane Gawronski of River Region Medical Corp. “We’re really just trying to keep the building safe.”

Residents of the Wildwood subdivision north of what was ParkView Regional Medical Center say they miss having the hospital at the entrance of the neighborhood, but are looking forward to Alcorn coming to the building.

Gawronski said hospital officials are still working with the Lorman-based university to develop classes somewhere in the six-story structure next year.

River Region has owned the facility since a 1999 merger. Plans were about that time to build the new River Region Medical Center on U.S. 61 North.

The new hospital opened Feb. 17.

“It broke my heart when they said they were going to close the hospital and build another one,” said James Dupuy, who lives at 135 McAuley Drive.

From Dupuy’s home directly behind the hospital, the sound of helicopters could be heard when patients where airlifted to and from ParkView. Like many of his neighbors, Dupuy was also concerned with what would become of the property.

The Marion Hill chemical dependency facility and The Street Clinic still operate as part of the complex, built as Mercy Hospital in 1957, but without hospital traffic, things are much quieter.

Dr. Clinton Bristow, president of the Alcorn, has said he has plans for an expanded campus in Vicksburg offering computer science and physician-assistant courses. No spokesman for the university could say whether that idea has progressed.

David Gibson, 316 Marian Lane, has lived in Wildwood subdivision for 41 years and said he sees the Alcorn plans as a major plus for the neighborhood.

“I can’t see anything wrong with that developing and helping the neighborhood some,” Gibson said.

Founded in 1871, Alcorn was the nation’s first state-supported black university. Today the school has campuses in Lorman and Natchez with a total enrollment of about 3,100.

“I think that would be a good deal to get a college in there,” Dupuy said.

Gibson, who is the vice president of the Wildwood neighborhood association, said that since Bristow announced the Alcorn plan in January, homes in the area seem to be selling faster than before ParkView closed. He said that he has seen little negative impact from the vacant building, but hopes plans move along quickly.

“If something doesn’t develop soon then I guess we’ll have to stir something up,” Gibson said.

Since the building has been empty, plywood has been put over most of the windows on the lower floors of ParkView. Gawronski said that was also a security measure.

She said the security precautions were not the result of any problems on the property.

“We just don’t want that to become a spot for vagrants,” Gawronski said.

When the new hospital construction was announced, the corporate parents, Quorum Inc. of Nashville, pledged the old hospital would not be allowed to become a derelict. That pledge was picked up when Quorum sold to the present provider of most medical services in Vicksburg, Dallas-based Triad Inc.

Triad’s second hospital, Vicksburg Medical Center on North Frontage Road, known today as River Region West, also no longer operates as an acute-care facility but is used as a geriatric treatment center. Vicksburg Clinic, which is adjacent, remains in full use.