UMMC, Anderson Affiliation to Enhance Health Services in East Mississippi

Modern hospital building facade with parking lot.
DATE POSTED: December 19, 2018

A new affiliation between the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson and Anderson Regional Health System in Meridian will strengthen and expand health care services in east-central Mississippi and west-central Alabama.

The affiliation brings the medical education, research and advanced health care offerings of Mississippi’s only academic medical center to Anderson’s two hospitals, cancer center and outpatient clinics already established as a comprehensive system. That expanded access will enable more area residents to stay home for treatment, said Kevin Cook, chief executive officer of the UMMC Health System.

The signing of an agreement “is a step forward for both organizations,” Cook said. “The future of health care in Mississippi is one that is founded on collaboration and cooperation among the in-state systems.”

The affiliation “is all about advancing health care in the community,” said John G. Anderson, president and chief executive officer of Anderson Regional, a 400-bed system that houses centers of excellence in cardiac services, oncology, surgical services, women’s health, rehabilitation and more. “We believe in the provision of advanced medicine and compassionate care, close to home.”

The new ties come at a time when Anderson is actively expanding services to better serve residents of the region. The mutually beneficial affiliation, which is not a merger but rather an agreement to work together to enhance patient care where possible, “is part of our three-year strategic plan,” Anderson said.

The relationship includes outreach by UMMC faculty physicians whose sub-specialties aren’t widely available in Meridian and surrounding areas, especially pediatric sub-specialists working with Children’s of Mississippi. Anderson Regional has the only inpatient pediatric services in the Meridian area and also provides pediatric physical, occupational and speech therapy.

“Providing a variety of children’s health services under the umbrella of Children’s of Mississippi’s highly regarded care model is a key area of mutual engagement,” said Dr. Charles O’Mara, UMMC professor of surgery and associate vice chancellor for clinical affairs.

The sub-specialists will enhance pediatric inpatient and outpatient services in addition to diagnostic and therapeutic procedures not currently available in the Meridian area, “adding great value for our pediatric patients,” Anderson said.

Dr. Deanna Price, a UMMC graduate and pediatrician on Anderson Regional’s medical staff, is “excited about the future of pediatric health care in East Central Mississippi.”

“Our entire pediatric team is thrilled about advancing the services available for children in our area,” Price said. “This collaboration will greatly benefit our patients by allowing them to have clinic visits with pediatric specialists locally.”

Anderson pediatricians will utilize telehealth for consults with pediatric sub-specialists from UMMC, “which will provide quick feedback for concerned parents,” said Price.

“From an inpatient perspective, more of our patients will be able to stay at Anderson and receive a higher level of pediatric care. This will ease the stress of traveling for both children and families,” Price continued.

“In addition to pediatric telehealth services, we will be exploring collaborative efforts that utilize technology in other areas such as the ICU and remote patient monitoring at home,” O’Mara said.

The affiliation will also allow UMMC to expand the educational training programs for Mississippi practitioners by placing medical residents and fellows at Anderson Regional, where they will deliver patient care in concert with Anderson’s 200-member medical staff.

“This physician pipeline is an opportunity for residents and fellows to develop relationships in this community and put down roots for their families,” said Dr. Otis Gowdy, Anderson Regional’s chief of staff.

“Growing our medical staff and strengthening specialty services through a partnership with the esteemed physicians of UMMC is a tremendous benefit for patients in this area. The numerous possibilities for collaboration will greatly enhance local health care,” Gowdy said.

Patient care at Anderson “is widely recognized for being patient-centered and high in quality and service,” said O’Mara. “They have progressive administrative and medical staff leadership that is highly respected across the state.”

The fact that many of Anderson Regional’s physicians attended medical school or received postgraduate education at UMMC makes such a collaborative relationship logical, O’Mara said. “But the essential element of collaboration is to provide services that benefit patients, especially if those benefits can be achieved with the patient being able to stay as close to home as possible,” he said.

Combining the expertise of Anderson Regional and UMMC puts patients first, leaders say.

“I believe that Mississippi health systems working together are best positioned to design systems of care for the citizens we serve,” Cook said.