Fifteen years have transformed University of Mississippi Medical Center Holmes County from a small rural hospital into a significant critical access facility and a trailblazer in using telehealth to heal patients.
And the last year alone, chief executive officer David Putt says, has brought even more change for the 25-bed hospital in Lexington that's in the midst of a $4 million renovation that includes a transformed Emergency Department.
Since April 2014, "admissions are up by 32 percent, and traffic in our Emergency Department is up 15 percent," said Putt, who also serves as CEO of UMMC Grenada. Radiology services are up 11 percent and clinic visits 10 percent over last year, he said. The hospital this year anticipates about 500 admissions and 9,000 patient encounters of all kinds.
That growth, and UMMC's 15th year as a presence in Holmes County, were reasons to celebrate Wednesday as all three UMMC campuses observe National Hospital Week. At UMMC Holmes County, employees feasted on barbecue, burgers and the trimmings and enjoyed sheet cakes decorated for the occasion.
"It means a lot to the employees at Holmes County," Putt said of the 15-year milestone. "They are engaged and take ownership in our organization. They want to be here, and they want to provide good quality care to the citizens."
Constructed in 1950 as Holmes County Community Hospital, the facility was renamed Holmes County Hospital in 1981. It came into UMMC's hands in 2000, and about a decade ago became one of Mississippi's critical access hospitals providing care for patients with acute illnesses or conditions that require observation or hospital admission.
The critical access designation means UMMC Holmes County must have no more than 25 beds, must have a full Emergency Department, and must admit patients for no more than 96 hours.
Celebrating UMMC Holmes County's 15th year in that community with a barbecue lunch are (far right) Donnie Washington, a licensed practical nurse; and Dr. Satira Perry, a physician in the hospital's family medicine clinic.
UMMC Holmes County also lays claim to being the first rural hospital in the state to connect to UMMC's main campus to save lives via telemergency. That videoconferencing allows nurse practitioners and physicians at rural Emergency Departments to speak with physicians in UMMC's Emergency Department, who in turn can see their patients from afar.
Putt joined the UMMC family in 1995, leaving the Jackson campus in 2002 to lead the Holmes County hospital and clinics until 2004. He returned to the Jackson campus to take on roles including chief operating officer and later CEO of the adult hospitals, followed by a stint as health network relationships advisor to the vice chancellor for health affairs. He returned to UMMC Holmes County in 2014 as chief executive officer of that facility and UMMC Grenada. He had been serving as interim CEO of the former Grenada Lake Medical Center since UMMC began managing the facility in September 2013.
Putt credits the veteran staffers who have provided leadership at UMMC Holmes County over the past 15 years, plus key clinical staff and administrators who were there before 2000, for "all the good care that people receive there."
As construction work competed with the drone of cicadas during Wednesday's barbecue, Kevin Cook, CEO of University Adult Hospitals and Clinics, thanked the Holmes County staff for a job well done.
"We take Hospital Week each year as an opportunity to celebrate the good work you do all year," Cook said.
"This marks the 15th year that UMMC has been a presence in Holmes County," he said. "Our goal is to meet the needs of citizens across the state, and you play a critical role for the citizens in this part of the state."
As UMMC Holmes County and Grenada director of ambulatory operations Dewery Montgomery looks on, Jeremy Adcock (left), UMMC Holmes County manager of support services, flips burgers and monitors sausage.
Chris Williams (right), a nursing assistant at UMMC Holmes County, didn't expect to receive a commemorative umbrella signifying the hospital's 15th anniversary in the UMMC family from Paige Lawrence, UMMC Holmes County clinical director.
Joining in the celebration of UMMC Holmes County's 15th year are (from left) Ryan Cain, UMMC Holmes County maintenance mechanic; Arthur Jones, UMMC Holmes County construction project manager; Pamela Hooker, UMMC Holmes County administrative assistant; Dewery Montgomery, director of ambulatory operations at UMMC Holmes County and UMMC Grenada; and Elizabeth Adcock, UMMC Holmes County manager of performance improvement.
Readying sausage for the grill are (from left) Renee Holman, sister of UMMC Holmes County manager of clinical laboratories Tara Eldridge (center); and Elizabeth Adcock, UMMC Holmes County manager of performance improvement.