Newest affiliation brings UMMC's resources to Oktibbeha County
Published on Monday, July 2, 2018
By: Ruth Cummins
The University of Mississippi Medical Center is helping to strengthen and expand health care offerings in Starkville and the Golden Triangle through a new affiliation with Oktibbeha County Hospital Regional Medical Center.
The goal is to work with OCH leadership and medical staff to help bolster the growing medical community. It’s a testament to the work of the Medical Center and shows how strong UMMC’s reputation is statewide.
The agreement, announced by the OCH Board of Trustees June 26, brings the medical education, research and advanced health care services of Mississippi’s only academic medical center to OCH, a 96-bed, progressive rural hospital with a medical staff of more than 70 representing 20 medical specialties.
“This relationship will allow local access to our larger system of specialists, both on site and through telemedicine,” said Dr. Charles O’Mara, UMMC associate vice chancellor for clinical affairs and professor of vascular surgery. “It also gives us the framework to identify physicians in Starkville and the surrounding area to add additional depth to the care provided at OCH.”
“Since January, our board, medical staff and administrative team have worked together on this affiliation process,” said Richard Hilton, outgoing OCH administrator and CEO. “Our goal was to find the best fit for not only our hospital and employees, but also for our patients and this community, and we feel that we’ve found that with UMMC at this time.”
The affiliation gives UMMC the opportunity to improve and expand the quality of its educational training programs for Mississippi practitioners by placing medical residents and fellows at OCH, where they will deliver patient care in concert with the hospital’s strong medical staff.
Increased access to state-of-the-art care will enable more area residents to stay home for treatment, said Kevin Cook, chief executive officer of the UMMC Health System. “Our vision for the affiliation is to ensure OCH is the center of a vibrant and viable medical community for many years to come,” Cook said.
The OCH Board chose UMMC after the Medical Center and two other hospital systems submitted proposals for affiliation earlier this year. The search for an affiliation institution accelerated after voters in November 2017 nixed a proposal by the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors to sell the county-owned facility.
"The affiliation with UMMC opens the door for OCH to grow and expand our services and bring additional specialties closer to home for our patients,” said Dr. Harry Holliday, OCH’s chief of staff and a pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine specialist.
UMMC also enjoys affiliations with Anderson Hospital in Meridian, Memorial Hospital in Gulfport, North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo and Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.
The new relationship with OCH brings not just enhanced clinical care opportunities, but other resources to the facility:
- OCH will network with UMMC’s large purchasing volume for medical and surgical supplies, administrative supplies and capital equipment, driving down its costs and taking advantage of discounts.
- UMMC will assist OCH in planning and implementing a single electronic health records system to replace the hospital’s current use of multiple electronic health records.
- The new relationship will enhance OCH’s physician recruitment and telemedicine offerings. UMMC’s Center for Telehealth has provided services at OCH for adult cardiology since 2013 and for pediatric cardiology since 2012.
- The affiliation strengthens the relationship between OCH and UMMC’s AirCare, the state’s most medically advanced helicopter transport. AirCare’s four Mississippi bases include the Airbus Helicopters Inc. plant near the Golden Triangle Regional Airport in Columbus, just 16 miles from OCH.
OCH, with more than 600 employees, is the first facility in northeast Mississippi to offer digital mammography. Its services include the daVinci SI Robot advanced surgical system. Offerings also include a free-standing fitness facility, cardiac rehabilitation, diabetes management, and a pulmonary wellness rehabilitation department providing physical, occupational and speech therapy.
OCH operates 10 clinics: a family medical clinic in Ackerman and nine clinics in Starkville offering services including breast health and imaging, lung and sleep care, pain management, sleep medicine, general surgery, orthopedics, wound healing and hyperbaric care, and family medicine.
“I’ve been following this process and know that the trustees have carefully considered what each system has to offer, and I’m very supportive of the decision they’ve made,” said OCH administrator and CEO Jim Jackson, announced as OCH’s new leader on June 25. “I respect UMMC, and we look forward to working with them in this mutually beneficial relationship as we continue to improve patient care in our community.”
“Now that Mr. Jackson has come on board, he will be able to take this decision and implement what has been put together,” Hilton said.
The Medical Center “is the preeminent health care provider in our state, and we feel this is a tremendous opportunity for the people in our area to have easier access to super-specialties that have been difficult to provide on a full-time basis in the past because of our population size,” Holliday said. “We look forward to this partnership and what it means for our hospital and community,"