Business News for the Mississippi Delta

Special Report: Healthcare

Healthcare in the Delta


An overview of 2016



By Angela Rogalski



W  ith the New Year’s arrival and the challenges and triumphs it’s sure to bring all of us, the year that we leave behind, 2016, was a memorable one in many ways. From the presidential election to the many ups and downs the economy saw throughout those 12 months; it was definitely a year we can all reflect on in one way or another, both personally and professionally. The healthcare industry in the Delta is no different, the reflections from some very positive for last year, while remaining staunchly hopeful for 2017.


Jim Jackson is CEO of Greenwood Leflore Hospital. Jackson said that while 2016 brought some very challenging moments financially to the hospital, it also brought some achievements that they’re all very proud of.


“In our facility, one of the biggest accomplishments in 2016 was our ability to recruit some new physicians, specialists, to our hospital,” Jackson says. “That was the biggest thing for us, because outside of being able to recruit, it’s been a very challenging year financially. Most hospitals are feeling the effects of lower reimbursement from insurances. But even with those challenges and after looking at changes that we had to make with the hospital in order to respond to those challenges; we were still able to attract and recruit some new specialty physicians.”


Jackson says they were very proud to welcome five new specialists to Greenwood Leflore.


“We recruited Dr. Richard Goldberg, who is a gastroenterologist; an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Jay Culpepper; also we recruited three OBGYN’s: Dr. Nneka Okezie-Okeh, Dr. Lori Lee McNeal and Dr. Kimberly Sanford. These recruitments took place within the 2015/2016 year. And with these new physicians, as they get their practices ramped up, and after realizing the benefits of the cuts that we had to implement financially; in 2017 we should really turn around our financials to a certain degree.”


Jackson says one of the reasons they are so excited to have these specialists local is it will benefit the community by providing services at home rather than having to send patients to bigger towns and facilities to receive the care these new doctors offer.


“Having these services here and available to the patient population in our market area will keep people from having to make a decision about going out of the area in order to receive the services,” Jackson says.


Another service Greenwood Leflore is very proud of is the Direct Anterior Hip Replacement surgery they offer with the new HANA Table technology they’ve implemented. One of the most exciting advances in Orthopedic Surgery, this revolutionary surgical table allows skilled physicians to approach hip replacement from the front of the leg rather than the side or the back. The result is a smaller incision with less muscle involvement and blood loss, significantly reducing post-operative pain and recovery time.


“That’s something else we do; try to invest in technology and equipment to support our physicians who are engaged in the use and utilization of new technologies.”


Betty Britt is marketing director of Bolivar Medical Center and says that 2016 was a very accomplished and positive year for Bolivar Medical.


“Bolivar Medical Center has really taken a lot of pride over the last year by working closely with the community,” Britt says. “For example, we raised over $10,000 for Relay For Life this past year. We also raised a significant amount of money for United Way. Also, our rehab employees met with the local schools back in the summer, and we did Popsicles for Players, where we talked to the athletes about hydration, so that was another community event that we did.”


Britt adds that there are several things that have come together over 2016 that they’re extremely proud of.


“We have a “face-to-face” telemedicine consultation for stroke victims arriving at BMC and with that new technology we work in partnership with St. Dominic-Jackson Memorial Hospital in an effort to bring specialized stroke diagnosis and treatment to the Mississippi Delta region. The faster you get to our emergency room and get diagnosed with a stroke, the better your odds are for a complete recovery. The telemedicine aspect actually connects with a physician at St. Dominic’s in Jackson.


“And then also some of our other accomplishments over the past year have been receiving from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations, the status of Top Performer, and this has happened now consecutively for five years. Each year the Joint Commission recognizes hospitals that have attained excellence in performance in certain accountable measures, such as heart failure, pneumonia, surgical care, etc. We are one of only 117 hospitals in the United States that achieved this award.”


Britt is also happy to report that the community has had a very positive response to the After Hours Clinic that opened in early February 2016.


“We’re very proud of the Cleveland Medical Clinic After Hours. It’s located in the Cleveland Medical Mall and it’s opened Monday-Friday, from 5 p.m. until 11 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. We treat most common illnesses: flu, infection, just any minor illness and also sprains, cuts and burns. It offers the community the medical services they need at the time of day they might need it. It’s for all of those times that you need care, but don’t want to wait or take off from work to go to the doctor.”


Britt says the hospital also hired a board-certified orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Wallace Weatherly, in 2016 and is very proud to welcome him to the Bolivar Medical family.


“He is experienced in treating all orthopedic injuries and any joint diseases or illnesses. He is also experienced in all replacement surgeries, such as hip, knee and shoulder. His office is conveniently located behind the hospital.”


Recently, the Leapfrog Group reported its fall 2016 Hospital Safety Grade, in which Bolivar Medical Center earned a grade of an A. Bolivar Medical Center is very pleased with this high mark, which places them among the top tier of hospitals across the country when it comes to patient safety.


“And we were thrilled with that,” Britt says.


She adds that Bolivar Medical earned Chest Pain Center Accreditation from the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care (SCPC), the accrediting arm of the American College of Cardiology.


“This designation underscores the hospital’s commitment to providing high quality emergency heart care close to home for the residents of the community. To earn this designation, Bolivar Medical Center worked closely with key community partners, including Pafford EMS to enhance coordination among everyone involved in a patient’s care – from first responders to the hospital emergency department team, etc.”


Over at Delta Regional in Greenville, Kevin Willis, Service Excellence coordinator, says that one of the biggest things they accomplished in 2016 was the addition of a new MRI machine at Delta Regional.


“It’s the best MRI equipment in the Tristate Delta region,” Willis says. “It’s the new Philips Ingenia 1.5T MRI system. And it gives incredible image quality compared to what we used to have. This is a huge plus for us and means people won’t have to go to Jackson or Memphis to get the same quality that they can get right here at home.”


Willis said they have also added 24/7 coverage by a board-certified anesthesiologist, and they’ve also began a collaboration with Mayo Medical Laboratories.


“We’re doing over a million labs a year here at Delta Regional,” Willis says. “And we have to send those out. Our send outs go to Mayo Medical Laboratories and they are affiliated with the Mayo Clinic. So, we’re very proud of that partnership. Also, in 2016 recruitment was in our forefront, but it’s going to be an even bigger focus in 2017.”


Willis adds that the hospital’s Outpatient Services Facility has been totally remodeled along with a revamping of the operating room suites within the hospital.


“Our OR suites have been revamped as well, and they’re almost complete. So far, we have several of them that have been done and they have brand new equipment. Our Emergency Room is also seeing upwards of 50,000 patients per year now and that’s huge compared to where we were in years past. So, we’re very happy with everything we’ve accomplished in 2016.”


Kathy Bryant is a registered nurse and is marketing coordinator and physician liaison for North Sunflower Medical Center. Bryant says in 2016 their swing bed unit saw huge growth and is a vital part of the hospital.


“A bit of history, back in the 1970s the rural hospitals were really having a hard time filling beds, so they came up with a plan to work with the Federal Government to establish something to fill these empty hospital beds in the rural hospitals,” Bryant says. “What they did was establish this “Swing Bed” program, so they could use them for acute patients or for extended care. So the swing bed unit was born.”


Bryant says the North Sunflower swing bed unit is a very important service that they offer the community.


“North Sunflower opened their swing bed program around 2005 and we became known as a critical access hospital, which is something that has helped so many rural community hospitals that were on the verge of closing down. By being critical access, we’re allowed to have 25 of our beds in the hospital and those 25 beds can be used for acute patients or they can be used for extended care, which is the swing bed unit. We have 25 of our beds allotted for swing bed services. So, it’s a subacute service that provides that transition time that many people need after surgery or after an injury before they actually go home. If someone isn’t ready to go home from the hospital after their insurance has paid all of the days it can, they can be sent to swing bed. The criterion is the patient has to have had three midnight stays in the acute side of the hospital before you can go to swing bed. You can go home after your three midnight stays and realize that you’re not able to be in the home setting yet, within 30 days you can come back to swing bed. You have a 30-day window on discharge. And this service is vital for many people.”


Bryant says the focus for swing bed is for patients who have suffered from illnesses or injuries such as stroke, head injury, recent amputations, pneumonia or maybe some sort of wound that isn’t healing.


“We see a lot of hip and knee replacement patients that come in for rehab as well,” Bryant adds. “People with language disorders and swallowing disorders; we have a program called VitalStim, and this program helps to retrain muscles that are used for swallowing and it complements the work that our speech therapists perform with the patients. So, our swing bed unit is so very important to our patients for many, many things.”