Hospital understands the value of commitment

Published 7:17 pm Friday, November 7, 2008

As chief executive officer of Southampton Memorial Hospital, I am proud to speak to the community on behalf of this fine facility.

Because of the unique connection we have established with the people of Franklin and Southampton County, I want to provide quarterly reports about the hospital. As a major employer, health-care provider and medical resource, I strongly believe in our responsibility to the people we serve.

A Lesson in History

History students often ask their teachers why history is important and relevant, in addition to what is gained by learning about people, events and places that may no longer exist. To answer these questions, one only needs to walk the halls of Southampton Memorial Hospital. This hospital is a testament to the support and guidance of time and a long history.

In 1957, a new corporation, Southampton Memorial Hospital, was established to construct a new hospital facility to replace the 70-bed Raiford Memorial Hospital. On Dec. 3, 1957, a charter was issued for the new corporation. The new hospital received its first patients from Raiford Memorial on June 12, 1963.

Like many great institutions, SMH’s survival and longevity is the result of a positive relationship with the community. Over the course of the past 50 years, this hospital has established a bond with this community through trust, excellent performance and reliability. Without that two-way commitment, Southampton Memorial would be a relic of the past, a history lesson about the importance of gaining the trust of one community. Instead, this is a thriving facility with new changes, new people and continued support of the community.

Partnering with the Community

All too often, I hear interesting tidbits of news. Sometimes, it’s news about Southampton Memorial Hospital. Sometimes the news is true; other times it is not. But rather than waste time figuring out how an inaccurate story made its way up the grapevine, I prefer to maintain my focus on building a relationship with the community. And my first objective when I discuss community issues is to make a commitment that benefits everyone. Such a commitment requires partnering with people — friends, family, colleagues, employees and volunteers.

But as everyone knows, making a commitment is not easy. It takes planning, determination and foresight. That’s why I have carefully outlined our commitment to this community and will make a difference in the lives of the people who live here.

First, we have identified several “audiences” that are important to us: patients, employees and physicians on our medical team.

Patients are our first priority. It is our job to serve them to the very best of our ability. Secondly, all of our employees are valuable members of our entire team. Without the strength of their teamwork, Southampton Memorial Hospital would not operate as efficiently as it does.

Also, physicians are critical to our success as a health-care organization. That’s why we invest in innovative ways to retain top-level doctors in our area. One such way is the creation of our Hospitalist Program. This program will allow our local physicians who choose to participate the opportunity to concentrate on the patients they see in their practices and to have more time to spend with their families. We are investing in the future of this hospital by establishing this innovative program that will help us keep the excellent physicians in our community.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

After identifying three priority groups who support our mission of commitment, I want to turn my focus to our actions. After all, actions do speak louder than words. I am confident that those who may question our ongoing commitment to the people will be impressed by the progress we have made.

We have welcomed six new physicians to our medical staff to continually improve our ability to provide solid health-care services to our patients. They are Dr. Anrae G. Applewhite, pediatrics; Dr. Donald B. Bowling, family practice and general medicine; Dr. Gregory L. Johnson, general surgery; Dr. Gaddy M. Lassiter, hospitalist medical director; Dr. Charles B. Lovelady, general surgery; and Dr. Maurice E. Young, obstetrics and gynecology. We are also looking to add an ENT (ear, nose and throat) doctor in the coming months and continue our aggressive recruitment efforts.

In order for us to attract excellent physicians and maintain the best services for our patients, we are constantly making sure our equipment meets the needs of our patients. For instance, we recently added the Beckman Coulter DxC600i Synchron Access Clinical System and the DxC600 Pro Clinical System to our roster of laboratory equipment. This new equipment will allow us to have a broader test menu and will allow us to expand our testing platform. We are continually seeking ways to work smarter, faster and more efficiently.

A symbol of our commitment to quality is the very structure in which we work. And our constant vigilance in making sure this facility is a suitable environment — and that is its appearance — helps to create as pleasing an experience as possible for our visitors. The $6 million upgrade and expansion of the facility allowed us to renovate our front entrance, thus creating a welcoming “front door” and providing an improved layout designed to help visitors navigate through the facility with ease.

As we continue to make progress, we remain proud of the accomplishments we’ve made in just the past few years. And although Southampton Memorial Hospital is more than 50 years old and deeply entrenched in the history of this community, we are always looking straight forward to see what lies ahead.

If you would like to comment on this report, or have questions, please do not hesitate to call me at (757) 569-6128. I welcome the opportunity to establish a dialogue with our friends and neighbors.