Walthall General Celebrates 50th Anniversary
During 1970 in Mississippi, most public school districts desegregated, Mississippi Public Television began broadcasting, the U.S. Navy awarded Ingalls Shipyard contracts worth $2 billion, and for the first year since World War II, more people moved to Mississippi than left the state.
Meanwhile, in Southwest Mississippi, Walthall General Hospital opened its doors as a county-owned facility. This year, the hospital is celebrating its 50th anniversary as part of the Forrest Health family.
Prior to the start of the hospital’s construction on Hospital Drive in 1968, there were two privately-owned hospitals which closed upon WGH’s opening two years later in 1970 as a 60-bed facility. The first physicians at WGH were JJ Pittman, Jim McLain, Walter Crawford, Ben Crawford, and Everett Crawford. The first nurse was Ruby Brumfield, RN, who directed and supervised nursing and related activities of Surgery, Central Supply and Outpatient Surgery.
Since that time, the 25-bed Critical Access hospital has continuously served and cared for the people of Walthall County and surrounding areas through a number of services, including its Emergency Department, which opened in 1970 and is considered a Level IV Trauma Center. The hospital also offers Emergency Medicine, Imaging and Radiology, Respiratory Therapy, Swing Bed, Cardio Rehab, Education, Home Health, Laboratory, Mobile MRI, Wound Care, and the Walthall Rural Health Clinic.
In 1985, Walthall’s Labor and Delivery closed its doors. In the same year, the hospital signed a management agreement with Forrest General. In 2010, the hospital became part of the Forrest Health system, which allowed Walthall County residents more access to a higher level of care. Like that of its flagship, the hospital’s Mission Statement is to ‘Do What is Best For the Patients.” The We C.A.R.E. philosophy includes: C, Communicate with Courtesy and Compassion; A, Acknowledge and Take Action; R, Respect and Reassure; E, Empathize and Explain.
In addition to the hospital, Walthall General opened its Rural Health Clinic in 2010. In the last year, the clinic was renovated and moved to 200 Hospital Drive. The clinic offers medical emergency procedures as a first response to common life-threatening injuries and acute illness, along with routine healthcare maintenance, minor surgical procedures, administrative healthcare exams, diagnostic and therapeutic services, and other primary care treatment.
In 2019, there were 7,660 Emergency Department visits and 181 in-patient admissions.
The ED is in the final stages of completing a remodeling and updating project which will allow for better patient flow, allow more space for social distancing, and the addition of the telemedicine hub. The hospital, which is served by AAA Ambulance, has also added an additional ambulance bay this year to accommodate the taller ambulance trucks. This year the hospital’s pharmacy was also completely remodeled, adding a much-needed open floor plan.
Fifty years ago in a world where mostly men served in leadership positions, Walthall General is proud to have Nacole Dillon as its current administrator. Dillon, a native of Poplarville, took over the reins of the hospital earlier this year. She was preceded by Tadren Kennedy, Bryan Maxie, Jimmy Graves, Mack Grubbs, and Fletcher Crawford.
“As a Walthall County resident for more than 14 years, I am most grateful for the opportunity to work in my community and be part of Walthall General Hospital’s continued success,” Dillon said. “The success of Walthall General is personal as it serves my own family’s healthcare needs as well as the needs of my fellow residents.”
An economic boost for the county, the hospital’s total economic benefit is $5,039,000, while its community service mission is $1,856,000.
Walthall General is a proud supporter of its community and county. “We support more than eight community events and school programs,” Dillon said. WGH has long been a sponsor of Walthall County’s Dairy Festival each year and for the past few years has sponsored the festival’s Baking Contest.” They also sponsor a Student of the Week spotlight throughout the school year which his featured in The Tylertown Times.
The hospital takes a proactive approach on community health initiatives through a Community Health Needs Assessment Steering Committee. This committee is responsible for the oversight, design, and implementation of the CHNA which identifies the highest priority health needs throughout the Walthall Community.
Walthall General is also home to a Community Focus Group that is comprised of members representing a specific segment of the population. In addition, these members act as a continued conduit between community and hospital leadership.
“Walthall General Hospital is vital to our county, and we look forward to serving you in the years to come,” Dillon said.
DID YOU KNOW:
• Second Baby Born – Shannon Hartzog, Walthall General’s Director of Nursing
• Hospital Administrators – Fletcher Crawford, Mack Grubbs, Jimmy Graves, Bryan Maxie, Tadren Kennedy, Nacole Dillon
• Longest Current Employee; Judy McElveen has worked at Walthall General since November 9, 1972. She works for the Business Office in the Registration Department and also relieves the switchboard operator.
The hospital's cafeteria serves about 80 meals a day. Two cafeteria favorites are Wednesday's fried chicken and Friday’s fried fish. Once open to the public, in lieu of social distancing, the cafeteria now offers a curbside pickup for the community.
Eight current employees were born at Walthall General; Shannon Hartzog, Stephanie Walker, Kay Mark, Donna Bankston, Jessica Bedwell, Sara Lowery, Tammy Baughman, and Stacie Revette.
Judy McElveen, who has worked at Walthall General since November 9, 1972, has seen a lot of changes in the last 48 years, but she’s also made a lot of friends, essentially another family.
McElveen was working as an aide at Billdora Senior Care in Tylertown when a switchboard operator job became available at the hospital. I came and applied, and Mack Grubbs, who was the administrator at the time hired me,she said.
She worked that job for a year or two before Grubbs coaxed her into joining the Business Office staff where she filed insurance. “I did that for what seems like forever,” she said. When Forrest Health and Walthall General partnered, McElveen transitioned into a position working with the administrative staff while also relieving the switchboard operator.
She's seen a bunch of changes. I can't tell you how many computer systems we've had,” she said. “When I started out we had an old posting machine that you had to put paper in and post. And I did some of that too.” She credits Sylvia Jackson, who she describes as a very smart woman and some other smart ladies who taught her a lot. These days she works the Registration desk and picks up all the lab slips that come in from the Walthall Rural Health Clinic across the street. Her days are relatively quiet with not as many phone calls and no visitors.
McElveen has worked with five different administrators -- Mack Grubbs, Jimmy Graves, Bryan Maxie, Tadren Kennedy and current administrator, Nacole Dillon.
McElveen, who is in good health, has never thought about retiring, not that the staff would let her.
For more information, visit Walthall General at www.walthallgeneral.org.