Author Archive for ochwebadmin

OCH Regional Medical Center Celebrates 40 Years

40logo          On a snowy winter day in January 1973, the move was made from the former Felix Long Memorial Hospital to another small facility in Oktibbeha County on land donated by the families of J.T. Garrard and Curby Steadman.  Today, the facility—which has expanded dramatically over the years—is known as OCH Regional Medical Center. This year, OCH celebrates its 40th anniversary as it progresses into the future.

According to OCH Administrator/CEO Richard Hilton, the Medical Center is proud to celebrate its long history and recognize the physicians and employees that enable it to abide by its motto of “Advanced Medicine. Compassionate Care.”

OCH started out very small with only offering three specialties, 11 active admitters, two operating rooms and a cafeteria that only served two meals per day. When it opened, OCH was only licensed to have 60 beds.

The history of OCH is best seen through the eyes of the people who make the hospital as great as it is today. Gloria Larry, RN, is one such employee who has worked at the Medical Center for the entire 40 years of its existence. Larry began her work at the hospital as a ward clerk and now works as a registered nurse in recovery. As she remembered those first couple years, she recollected the friendships she had made and recalled that everyone knew each other because the hospital was much smaller back then.

“In March of 1973, I began working at OCH. Unlike today, everyone worked on all floors. Throughout the 40 years, I have been able to get to know the doctors and my coworkers and build relationships with them. Ever since I started working here, there has been a family environment, which is something that I have really enjoyed,” Larry said.

Over the years, many departments have relocated to different areas of the facility. At one time, trailers were even used to house administration, accounting, nursing administration, social services, performance improvement, infection control and marketing. Additionally, before the Healthplex was built, Wellness Connection and Cardiac Rehab were located in the hospital’s basement.

Larry stated that over the last 40 years, not only the building has changed, but also the services provided.

“Many more services are available now than were 40 years ago. Today, OCH has many more doctors, departments and specialties than it had back then,” Larry said.

Now a 96-bed facility, OCH offers 19 specialties and employs just over 600 people, making it the second largest employer in the county. For the past several years, OCH has had about 26,000 emergency room patients each year and almost 30,000 outpatient visitors each year. There are currently six ICU beds and around 100 staff physicians that providing care with state-of-the-art equipment and advanced technology.

Jennifer Gregory, CEO of the Greater Starkville Development Partnership said that for each of the past 40 years, OCH Regional Medical Center has reached out to the community to make it a safer and healthier place for residents to live and work.

“OCH Regional Medical Center also has a history of giving back to the Starkville community over the last 40 years, and we’ve come to count on them as a partner in our community and economic development efforts,” Gregory said.

“The presence of OCH Regional Medical Center has not only impacted our community economically as one of our largest employers in the county, but also, because of the ever expanding specialties and care being offered, it has assisted our efforts with recruiting new residents to the City of Starkville and Oktibbeha County. Prospective students, athletes, faculty, alumni, and families looking to relocate have piece of mind knowing that an elite and expansive medical community exists should they need healthcare,” she continued.

Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum is also appreciative of the services provided by the Medical Center. He congratulates OCH for its 40 years of service and expresses his gratitude for its contributions that not only affect the community, but also the university and its students.

“I am proud to say I was born at the former Felix Long Memorial Hospital in Starkville, and my parents brought me ‘home’ to faculty housing on the MSU campus wrapped in a maroon and white blanket. From my role as a husband and father to my role as the president of Mississippi State University, I have a keen appreciation of the value of having a state-of-the-art medical center in this community. Without the availability of world-class medical technology and health care providers, the growth and development of both the community and the University would be greatly impeded,” Keenum said.

Because of its local ownership, OCH is able to invest its resources back into the community in order to impact virtually every facet of life for the region’s residents. In 2012, over $2.5 million in charity care was provided by the Medical Center. Hilton stated that the total economic impact of OCH is around $64 million annually and that it adds around 390 jobs to the community outside of the hospital. He added that the Medical Center strives to give back to the community through providing needed services, screenings and education to residents.

            “The hospital is here to meet the community’s needs in health care through the delivery of programs and services. Whenever there is a need for medical care we are here to assist the patient, as well as the doctors who are providing the services,” Hilton said.

OCH focuses much attention to keeping up-to-date with the latest technology and to recruiting well-trained staff to be able to provide the best care for its patients.

“OCH works hard to offer the latest technology. Staff members are continually trained on new services that are provided and updated technology. Additionally, our medical staff is re-credentialed every two years upon obtaining the required continuing education hours.” Hilton said.

OCH Chief of Staff, Jim Brown, MD, said that he looks forward to the years to come as the medical center progresses and strives to better serve the community.

“The medical staff of OCH Regional Medical Center joins with the board of trustees, hospital administration and staff in celebrating forty years of exceptional care to Starkville and this region.  We look forward to partnering with the hospital for many years to come in service to our patients and our community,” Brown said.

OCH Regional Medical Center Receives 5-Star Rating for Orthopedic Care

FIVESTAR_TotalKneeReplacementOCH Regional Medical Center has received a 5-star rating for the quality of its orthopedic care from Healthgrades, the leading provider of information to help consumers make an informed decision about a physician or hospital.  This recognition is part of new findings released in American Hospital Quality Outcomes 2013: Healthgrades Report to the Nation.  This study evaluates the performance of approximately 4,500 hospitals nationwide across nearly 30 procedures and conditions.  A 5-star quality measurement indicates that OCH’s clinical performance is better than expected.

“I am very proud of the contributions of all our hospital staff members working with our orthopedic surgeons and the medical doctors for making this designation possible,” said OCH CEO/Administrator Richard Hilton.  “This 5 star rating from an objective source allows patients to make a better informed decision about their healthcare.  It also exemplifies our commitment to quality by providing our community with the highest level of care,” he added.

Hospital quality and clinical outcomes are more important to consumers than hospital reputation, according to the June 2012 Assessment of Preferences, Behavior and Decision-Drivers report by Stax Inc.  When selecting a hospital, 64% would select a hospital receiving 5 stars in a specialty that is relevant to them over good reputation in the community.  Healthgrades bases its objective hospital quality measures solely on clinical performance and updates them annually, free to the public.  The 2013 performance outcomes are now available at

For its analysis, Healthgrades evaluated approximately 40 million Medicare hospitalization records for services performed from 2009-2011 at approximately 4,500 short-term, acute care hospitals nationwide.  Healthgrades found that patients treated in hospitals receiving 5 stars had, on average, 75% lower risk of dying than if they were treated at hospitals receiving 1 star (across 18 common procedures and diagnoses, such as heart bypass surgery, stroke and pneumonia).

In this year’s report, Healthgrades also analyzed findings over its last five study periods (2005-2011) to provide an overview of trends in hospital quality over a longer period.  Among its key findings, Healthgrades found that the nation’s average in-hospital, risk-adjusted mortality rate improved 22% for procedures and conditions studied by Healthgrades over the last seven years.

Healthgrades independently measures hospitals based on data that hospitals submit to the federal government.  No hospital can opt in or out of being measured, and no hospital pays to be measured.  Healthgrades risk adjusts for patient demographic characteristics and clinical risk factors, thereby taking into account how sick patients are upon hospital admission.

OCH has three orthopedic surgeons on staff including Todd Smith, MD, Michael Cox, MD, and Allen Butler, MD.  Drs. Smith and Cox practice at Starkville Orthopedic Clinic, 662-320-4008.  Dr. Butler practices at Mississippi Bone and Joint Clinic, 662-323-9908.



Robotic Gynecologic Surgery at OCH Gives Women Another Option

robotic_gynGone are the days where gynecologic surgery means a long hospital stay and three to six weeks of recovery.  At progressive hospitals such as OCH Regional Medical Center, there is a different option for women—robotic-assisted surgery.  While traditional open gynecologic surgery requires a large incision for access to the uterus and surrounding anatomy, surgery with the da Vinci robot is minimally invasive with three to four band-aid incisions, an over-night stay in the hospital and has patients back on their feet in one to three weeks.

Joy Treehunt researched robotic surgery a few years ago for her national boards for teaching.  “I thought it was really neat,” she said.  “It was hard to imagine that the surgeon could actually manipulate the robot from across the room!”  Last year, OCH Staff Obstetrician/Gynecologist Thomas Pearson, MD, recommended Treehunt have a hysterectomy via robotic-assisted surgery.  “I was surprised I had the option of robotic surgery in Starkville,” said Treehunt.  “Because of my research and the information Dr. Pearson provided, I knew this would be the route I would take.”

The robot consists of three instrument arms which directly contact the patient and one laparoscope arm to view inside the body. The surgeon sits at a separate unit where he or she controls the robotic arms while viewing a three-dimensional, high definition, magnified version of the inside of the body.  Surgeons are able to maneuver the robotic arms with 540 degrees of articulation, far greater than the human wrist.  Any hand tremor is filtered resulting in precise movements of the instruments.  “The surgery is easier with the robot because you’re able to see the anatomy in 3-D which gives you a better evaluation of the surgery area,” said Pearson.  Procedures using the da Vinci surgical system result in quicker recovery times, less pain and decreased blood loss.   In contrast to conventional surgical methods, which require a large 6-10 inch incision, patients undergoing da Vinci surgeries have several ½ inch (key-hole) incisions through which surgery is performed. “Patients have been extremely pleased with robotic surgery. I have personally been surprised how some ladies have resumed their activities so quickly,” said Pearson.

For Treehunt, having the robotic-assisted surgery one week before Christmas meant that she was able to recover in time to enjoy the holidays with her family.  “This just shows that OCH is going the extra mile to keep up with technology and take care of its patients.  That’s important, and I’m very well pleased with the outcome,” she said.

Dr. Pearson and fellow OCH Staff OB/GYN Jan Furniss, MD, perform robotic hysterectomies, ovarian surgery and will soon offer surgery for pelvic prolapse repairs.  “Robotic surgery provides a better quality of life for our patients,” said Dr. Pearson.  “Obviously any procedure that shortens one’s hospital stay and hastens their recovery is not only beneficial from a personal stand point for that individual, but also economically as they return to the workforce more quickly.”

The da Vinci Surgical System has been widely used by both gynecologists and urologists, and Dr. Pearson says he looks forward to it being incorporated into general surgeries one day.  “Years ago, I knew that laparoscopic surgery was being done in other places, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it.  After seeing our general surgeons doing laparoscopic cholecystectomy (the removal of the gallbladder), I saw what a benefit it would be to our patient population.  That’s what moved me into laparoscopic surgery, and I think robotic surgeries will further benefit our patients just as laparoscopic surgery has proven to be advantageous,” said Dr. Pearson.  “OCH making the decision to proceed with the purpose of the da Vinci robot system is evident that our hospital is going to continue to offer newer, less-invasive, more patient-friendly services to this community.”





Robotic Prostate Surgery Helps Men Battling Cancer

urology_davinciDr. Kenneth Thomas and his surgical team prep their patient for a robotic assist laparoscopic prostatectomy, the removal of the prostate, and then he tells his team, “Alright, the robot is docked…”   He’s referring to the da Vinci Robot, Dr. Thomas’ ‘right-hand man’ (or rather ‘right-hand robot’).  OCH Regional Medical Center has the only da Vinci Si Surgical System in the area.

The robot consists of three instrument arms which directly contact the patient and one laparoscope arm to view inside the body. These arms dock to trocars inserted into small incisions in the patient’s body.  The trocars function as a portal for the robotic arms and camera or laparoscope.  Now it’s time for surgery to begin, and Dr. Thomas walks five feet away from his patient and sits down at the surgeon console to operate.

The surgeon console is a separate unit where the doctor controls the robotic arms while viewing a three-dimensional, high definition, magnified version of the inside of the body. At the surgeon console, Dr. Thomas maneuvers the robotic arms with 540 degrees of articulation, far greater than the human wrist.  Any hand tremor is filtered resulting in precise movements of the instruments.

“This robotic system has revolutionized prostate cancer surgery.  We as surgeons are seeing things now that we haven’t seen before,” said Dr. Thomas.  “Because of the magnification, we stand a better chance of identifying and sparing the nerves that help with erections.  The recovery from any robotic surgery is quick and gets patients back to their normal routine faster.  For prostate cancer, the robotic prostatectomy is now the most common treatment.”

Procedures using the da Vinci surgical system result in shorter hospital stays, quicker recovery times, faster return to normal activity and work, less pain and decreased blood loss.   In contrast to conventional surgical methods, which require a large 6-10 inch incision, patients undergoing da Vinci surgeries have several ½ inch (key-hole) incisions through which surgery is performed.

“Before this, patients who had open surgery for prostate cancer were in the hospital for three days,” said Dr. Thomas.  “Now, we can get the patient out of surgery faster and home the next day.  This makes our patients happy, and when they’re happy, we’re happy.”

James Doss is one of those patients.  “I’m glad I chose to have the robotic-assisted surgery.  Dr. Thomas gave me three weeks to get back on my feet, but I was up walking that same day,” said Doss. “Now I’m feeling better than I did before the surgery.”

Tom (last name has been omitted for privacy reasons) had his surgery the week before Christmas and was able to recover in time for the holidays.  “I felt good about the fact that OCH had the latest type of technology, and I knew that my recovery time would be minimized because it is less invasive,” said Tom. “People may think you have to go to a big city to have this done, but you don’t.  We have this right here in Starkville.  I had complete confidence in Dr. Thomas. He is well-trained with the da Vinci Robot.”

Joe Hubbard believes Dr. Thomas and his robot assistant saved his life.  “I had prostate cancer, and now I’m jumping for joy because I’m cancer free,” said Hubbard.  He opted for the robotic assisted surgery to avoid a long recovery time.  “I only had four little spots where they cut me.  I had surgery on Tuesday, and Sunday I was back at church.”

“This is the best way to take care of our patients,” said Dr. Thomas. “Robotics is where surgery is going, and OCH has the state-of-the-art equipment to provide the best care available to our area.”

The da Vinci Si Surgical System arrived at OCH in October 2011.  Since then, doctors have performed urological and gynecological surgeries using the machine.  For more information about these procedures read next week’s article or call the OCH Marketing/PR Department at 662-615-3067.

Robot Gives OCH Regional Milestone

[Re-published by permission of Starkville Daily News. Original publication date: November 11, 2012]


robotic_docAn OCH Regional Medical Center doctor performed the hospital’s first — and the region’s first — robotic general surgery on Nov. 2.

The Da Vinci SI robot, nicknamed “Jack” in an OCH promotional contest, allows surgeons to remotely control three mechanical arms and a camera, and it was installed in May. Daniel Smith, a surgeon who practices with OCH General Surgery Associates and the Center for Breast Health and Imaging, said surgeons have performed several gynecological and urological surgeries with the robot since May, but he performed the region’s first Da Vinci SI general surgery.

General surgeons primarily focus on abdominal problems, Smith said, but the term was once a catch-all term for surgeons with knowledge of a broad spectrum of surgeries, as opposed to a specialty like gynecology or urology.

“Nowadays, the general surgeon does things no one else does,” Smith said. “General surgeons have been kind of slow to adopt this (robotic) technology. It’s starting to catch on in other regions and other states. It’s catching on in Jackson right now; that’s where I was trained and exposed to this initially.”

Smith completed his general surgery residency at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in June, and he joined OCH’s staff in August. His patient was Karla Murphy, an Ackerman resident in need of a cholecystectomy, or gallbladder removal.

“I had only heard about robotic surgery once before, when a lady I work with had a hysterectomy,” Morgan said. “Dr. Smith told me about how the robotic surgery resulted in less pain and a faster recovery, and I was sold.  He told me I could go back to work on Monday, and I did. Friday morning, I came in at 5:30 a.m. and was headed home by 2:30 p.m. that afternoon. I was very thankful for that, because I prefer to sleep in my own bed.”

Smith said gallbladder removal is already a common outpatient procedure even without robotic aid, but the Da Vinci SI does much to reduce pain and to reduce the time patients spend in the hospital after larger operations.

“The robot adds the ability to see things closer and in much finer detail,” Smith said. “That, in the long run, should reduce complications in the operating room.”

Morgan said the gallbladder surgery is her first surgery ever, but she was pleased with the speed of her recovery.

“I was sore until about the third day, but I would recommend the robotic surgery to anyone,” Morgan said. “I have two kids and a husband to care for, and life doesn’t stop just because you had surgery. You would think in a small town, the hospital would have fewer opportunities and wouldn’t be able to perform this kind of procedure, but that’s not the case.”

Smith said he expects general surgeries performed with the Da Vinci SI to accelerate, and he believes robotic surgery has strong potential for the future. The current Da Vinci SI is like a Model T Ford, he said, in that it is the first surgical robot to see widespread use, but much evolution is yet to come.

“The important thing is that OCH as a community operation is staying on the cutting edge of technology,” Smith said. “Who knows what they’re going to do next?”