Doctor from Ghana Shadows OCH Physicians

Through medical mission work, a physician from Ghana was able to connect with the staff at OCH Regional Medical Center this week to expand and improve the healthcare in his hometown.

Dr. Thomas Cobb with Starkville Clinic for Women and a member of the medical staff at OCH took a mission trip to Ghana in 2016, and that’s where he met Dr. Donatus Zubeviel Dery. Dr. Dery is the only physician in his medical practice with a limited staff. In Ghana, a country of more than 28 million people, there is a shortage of medical professionals with a ratio of one doctor for every 2,000 patients.

“Our patients with diseases have progressed much more than what we see here [in Starkville] because of the wait time to be able to see a physician,” Dr. Dery said, explaining that in his culture, people often seek alternative treatments first.

“This has been a great opportunity for us to partner with Dr. Dery so that he can observe our medical system and methods that are used,” said Dr. Cobb. “Dr. Dery is the only physician at the hospital in his town. Through observing our surgeons, he’s been able to learn new techniques to improve care for his patients back home.”

During his visit at OCH, Dr. Dery was able to observe several surgeries such as the removal of a gallbladder, a bowel resection and obstetric surgeries. In addition, Dr. Dery took note of the hospital’s best practices and learned about infection control and patient safety methods in order to directly improve the practices in his home village.

“I am really grateful to the staff at OCH, especially the theater [operating room] crew. Everyone here has been ready to assists me or explain to me each technique and help me learn. Because of the hospitality they’ve shown, I’ve been able to learn more and come up with goals to help my patients when I return home,” said Dr. Dery.

One of the short-term goals Dr. Dery mentioned was replacing the tile floors in the surgery room that can be slippery and more difficult to sanitize and improving patient care by making patients more comfortable and educating the patients on their plan of care.

As for long-term goals. Dr. Dery said he would one day like to have access to the advanced medical equipment he has seen at OCH that allows for less invasive procedures and a faster recovery time for his patients. At the hospital where he practices, there are no devices to perform laparoscopic surgeries. Dr. Dery explained he is only able to perform open surgeries with a spinal block. Anesthesia is not available, among many other much-needed medical supplies.

Because of the shortage of basic necessities, OCH donated much-needed supplies for Dr. Dery such as towels, gloves and cautery.

BJ’s Family Pharmacy in Starkville donated medicine such as antibiotics for Dr. Dery to prescribe to his patients.

“Medicine that we have easy access to here in America is scarce in so many other parts of the world.  My wife and I have had the privilege of serving in medical missions overseas, and this is another way for us to give back to others who are less fortunate, and hopefully, improve their quality of life,” said BJ Cougle.

For a complete list of the OCH medical staff, visit our physician directory.


A new affiliation between Oktibbeha County Hospital Regional Medical Center in Starkville and the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson will strengthen and expand health care services in Starkville and the Golden Triangle.

The affiliation, announced June 26, brings the medical education, research and advanced health care offerings 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.

“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.”

Kevin Cook, UMMC CEO

Expanded 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.

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.

The working relationship allows OCH to enhance its strong medical staff, expand its health care services, and improve access to treatment through UMMC’s medical and educational outreach. It allows UMMC to improve and expand the quality of its educational training programs and its research contributions.

OCH’s Board of Trustees chose UMMC after the Medical Center and two other hospital systems submitted proposals for affiliation earlier this year.

Jim Jackson, OCH CEO

“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 affiliation will give UMMC the opportunity to expand 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 medical staff.

Dr. Charles O’Mara

“Our new affiliation with OCH is an excellent opportunity for our residents and faculty physicians to bring the resources of the state’s only academic medical center to the Golden Triangle,” said Dr. Charles O’Mara, associate vice chancellor for clinical affairs and professor of vascular surgery.

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.


About OCH Regional Medical Center

Founded in 1973, OCH Regional Medical Center is a county-owned and operated facility serving Oktibbeha and the surrounding six counties. During its 45 years of existence, the hospital has completed numerous expansion projects including a south tower that houses radiology, emergency, laboratory and surgical services; a free-standing fitness and rehab facility; and a west tower which opened in 2011 expanding patient rooms and nurses stations and enhancing waiting spaces, as well as a state-of-the-art Women’s Center and a six-bed intensive care unit, in addition to a multi-level parking garage. The hospital boasts a staff of more than 70 physicians representing 20 medical specialties.


About the University of Mississippi Medical Center

A campus of the University of Mississippi, UMMC is the state’s only academic medical center. Located in Jackson, it encompasses seven health science schools, including medicine, nursing, health related professions, dentistry, pharmacy, graduate studies and population health. The Medical Center’s health care enterprise includes the state’s only Level I trauma center and its only children’s hospital. UMMC’s education, research and health care missions share the objectives of improving the health of the state’s population and eliminating health disparities.

For more information, visit and For more news stories from the University of Mississippi Medical Center, click here.

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Experienced Senior Healthcare Executive Takes Helm at OCH

OCH Regional Medical Center is proud to announce James “Jim” Jackson, CPA, as its new administrator/CEO.

Jackson boasts 31 years of extensive administrative, operational, financial, information systems and public accounting experience, with nearly 20 years at Greenwood Leflore Hospital where he served as CFO from 1999-2009 and CEO from 2009-2018. The 248-bed, city/county- owned rural referral hospital has approximately 900 employees and 23 clinics and is accredited by The Joint Commission.

“Jim Jackson has the knowledge and experience in Mississippi health care that will be critical in leading OCH Regional Medical Center forward. He is keenly aware of the challenges all hospitals face regarding the changes in the industry,” said OCH Board of Trustees Chairman Linda Breazeale.

As the CEO for Greenwood Leflore Hospital, Jackson was responsible for the executive/administrative and operational functions of the hospital; including supervision of all medical staff, ancillary, finance, human resources and support departments. Under his leadership, the hospital completed a $13 million physical plant renovation and retired the debt early, completed the purchase of a cancer center for $2 million and oversaw the ongoing $20 million investment in a new computer system. Jackson is also credited with the recruitment of numerous physicians in specialties such as orthopedics, obstetrics/gynecology, pediatrics, pulmonology/critical care, gastroenterology, otolaryngology, emergency medicine and primary care.

An avid Bulldog fan, Jackson earned his bachelor of professional accounting from Mississippi State University in 1986.

“As an alumnus of Mississippi State and having two children at MSU, we’re very excited to come to Starkville and join the OCH family. Starkville is a growing, progressive community that has so much to offer, and we look forward to being a part of this community,” said Jackson. “With the upcoming affiliation, we are positioned to expand our programs and services to continue to meet the community’s needs while maintaining the personalized care in a warm, friendly environment for which OCH has become known,” Jackson continued.

Jackson served as the Chairman of the 2016-2017 Mississippi Hospital Association Board of Governors and recently served as the chairman of MHA’s finance committee. He is a member of numerous committees and organizations; including the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA), the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Mississippi Society of CPAs. In 2015, he received the Senior Healthcare Executive ACHE Regents Award and was also named 2015 Employer of the Year by the Delta Chapter of Mississippi Business Women.

“As a graduate of Mississippi State, Mr. Jackson comes to us already with a connection and love for this community. He will be an active participant in civic and social activities in Starkville and Oktibbeha County that make the Golden Triangle a thriving region in the state,” noted Breazeale.

Outgoing OCH Administrator/CEO Richard Hilton said he’s known Jackson for the past 19 years and has also served alongside him on the MHA Board of Governors and several MHA committees.

“I have always known Mr. Jackson to be very dedicated in the delivery of patient care. He is trustworthy and well-respected among his peers. Mr. Jackson is very knowledgeable of the health care industry and knows what will be required of him in leading OCH Regional Medical Center into the future with the evolving changes affecting all hospitals,” said Hilton.

Jackson is a native of Greenwood, Mississippi. He and his wife, Laura, who is a native of Tupelo and also an MSU alumnus, have been married for 31 years and have three sons, Jay (23), Jeff (18) and John Ross (13).

Jackson assumes the role of administrator/CEO effective immediately upon the retirement of Hilton after his 35 years of service to OCH.



OCH Nurse/Lieutenant Colonel Nominates Wound Center for Freedom Award

OCH Regional Wound Healing & Hyperbaric Center has been named a 2018 nominee for the Freedom Award, which is the highest honor the U.S. Department of Defense bestows to civilian entities. Jimmy Vaughan, a volunteer with the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), presented the certificate to the Center’s program director Brad McKenzie on Tuesday.

“Each year, Guard and Reserve members have the opportunity to nominate their employer for the Freedom Award,” explained Vaughn who is retired from the U.S. Army. “The ESGR State Committee reviews nominations and submits recommendations for the next round. A national selection board comprised of senior Department of Defense officials, business leaders and prior awardees select up to 15 employers to receive the Secretary of Defense’s award. This is a way for the employee and ESGR to thank the employers for their support,” Vaughn said.

LTC Beth Sisson, who works at the Center as a board certified wound and foot care nurse, nominated the Wound Healing & Hyperbaric Center for the award. When she’s not providing wound care for patients at OCH, Sisson serves as the commander for the 6-95th military intelligence battalion in San Antonio, Texas.

“In the Army Reserves, we go wherever we’re assigned and that’s not always easy for our employers because our schedules can be very unpredictable,” said Sisson. “Brad has been very supportive of me, always going above and beyond to accommodate my schedule and thanking me for my service. That kind of support has meant so much to me.”

This prestigious recognition by the Department of Defense comes during National Wound Healing Awareness Month to help raise awareness of chronic wounds and treatments available. As one of 700+ Healogics-managed Centers, the OCH Regional Wound Healing & Hyperbaric Center offers advanced therapies to patients suffering from chronic wounds.

“Receiving this nomination for the Freedom Award during National Wound Healing Awareness Month makes it that much more special,” said McKenzie. “We’re a team here at the wound healing center, and we’re proud to support Beth and appreciate what she and all of the men and women do who serve our country,” McKenzie continued.

People with wounds that have not improved with traditional methods of treatment may benefit from a visit to the OCH Regional Wound Healing & Hyperbaric Center. To schedule an appointment at the Center, call 662-615-2791.





Maternity & Infant Fair Provides One Stop Shop for Information for Parents

OCH Regional Medical Center will host its 23rd Annual Maternity & Infant Fair Saturday, June 2 from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. in the OCH Ed Facility.
Event coordinator and OCH Perinatal Educator Paula Hamilton, RNC-OB, IBCLC, said two new additions to the fair this year include the recently opened Childhood Academy at East Mississippi Community College and Emerson Family Resource Center, which will show a 10-minute video on safe sleep for babies and give away newborn onesies.
“Babies don’t come with instructions, but our community is so fortunate to have a wealth of resources to help parents succeed, and that’s the goal of the Maternity and Infant Fair—to connect moms and dads with local resources to help them care for their new additions,” said Hamilton.
Hamilton said representatives from Early Intervention, Excel by 5, East Mississippi Breastfeeding Coalition, La Leche League, WIC, Starkville Clinic for Women, Starkville Pediatric Clinic, and other clinics and community organizations/businesses will be on-site to provide information and special demonstrations. In addition, a booth featuring information about Medela breast pumps, which may be rented through OCH, will also be available, along with details about the nationally-recognized Mom 365 photo service, which is also offered at OCH to enhance infant and childhood security.
Information on breastfeeding, pre- and postnatal diet and nutrition, safe sleep for newborns, car seat safety, and other current recommendations for safety for newborns and their growing families. Attendees will also have the opportunity to pre-admit, ask questions about their hospital stay, and learn how to access their patient information online.
“We recognize the importance of getting the most up-to-date guidelines and recommendations into the hands of moms and dads to ease their fears and help them be well-prepared. Our staff is committed to making the experience of becoming a parent as wonderful as it should be,” said Hamilton.
Refreshments will be provided, and numerous door prizes, including complimentary prenatal, breastfeeding, sibling and grandparenting classes, Wellness Connection swim classes, and donations from area merchants such as a photography session, door hangers, and newborn essentials will be given away at the Fair. “I’m a Big Brother” and “I’m a Big Sister” t-shirts for siblings will be available for purchase, as well as activities for children to enjoy.
This event is free and open to the public. For more information about the Maternity & Infant Fair, call Hamilton at 662-769-7813 or learn more about OCH’s maternity services here.


OCH Administrator/CEO to Retire after 44 Years in Healthcare

OCH Regional Medical Center Administrator/CEO Richard Hilton announced his retirement Wednesday after 35 years of service to OCH and a total of 44 years in the field of healthcare.

“This retirement will allow me to spend more quality time with my wife, La Rue, our seven children and 14 grandchildren,” said Hilton. “I am proud to be a part of the OCH family and my time here will always hold a special place in my heart. I wish the trustees, medical staff and employees continued success.”

Hilton has a long tenure with OCH, serving as the Associate Administrator/Chief Financial Officer from March 1983 to February 2012, when he was named Administrator/CEO by the OCH Board of Trustees.

“The board is grateful for Mr. Hilton’s extensive insights into issues that impact the healthcare industry on many levels,” said Linda Breazeale, OCH Board of Trustees Chair. “The needs of Starkville and Oktibbeha County citizens have always been his top priority, as he has expanded on the well-laid foundation formed by our medical community in generations past.  Mr. Hilton has been instrumental in guiding trustees into the affiliation process and has equipped us with extensive background information for issues and considerations as we move forward.”

The OCH Board of Trustees accepted Hilton’s letter of resignation at the regular board meeting Tuesday night and will immediately begin the search for the next administrator. Hilton has agreed to stay on board as long as necessary to assist with the transition process.

“The board looks forward to searching for a new chief administrator who will bring a respect for our past, appreciation for our present and a vision for our future,” said Breazeale.

Hilton is also a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE) and has been a member of the Hospital Financial Management Association and the American Hospital Association since 1983.

Serving on the board of directors of the Greater Starkville Partnership Development and as a member of the Starkville Rotary Club, Hilton is very active in his community.  His philanthropic efforts also extend beyond the United States. He and his wife are the founders of Family Life Missions Inc., a benevolent ministry operating children’s homes in Catacamas, Honduras, where he served as president/CEO and board chairman from 1992-2005.

Hilton holds a B.S. in business administration from Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, and an M.S. in hospital and health administration from the University of Alabama in Birmingham.



OCH Physicians and New Specialties Help Medical Center to Achieve Mission

Since 1991, our country has recognized physicians every year on March 30 for their work and contributions to society and their communities. Behind every physician is a story about what inspired him or her to choose the field of medicine or select what specialty to practice. While Eli Howell, MD, knew he wanted to follow in his grandfather’s and father’s footsteps as a physician, he credits getting the measles over Christmas break in college to putting him on the path to becoming a plastic surgeon.

“I got measles my junior year at Tulane and missed the spring semester,” said Dr. Howell. “I got a job at Riley Hospital in Meridian mopping floors in the operating room, turning the rooms over and transporting patients. That opportunity solidified my decision to become a surgeon.  Since then, I’ve worked in the OR as a tech, circulating nurse and resident,” he continued.

Dr. Howell went on to earn his doctor of medicine from the University of Mississippi School of Medicine in 1975 where he remained on staff and served as chief of the plastic surgery division in 1982-1983. He currently practices at Mississippi Premier Plastic Surgery in Jackson, and in February, he joined the staff at the Center for Breast Health & Imaging and is practicing with breast health specialists Travis Methvin, DO, Chip Wall, MD, and Dana Brooks, FNP-C. He sees patients at the Center and performs surgeries at OCH the first and third Tuesday of each month.

“Plastic surgery is a specialty we identified as a need in our community a few years ago,” said Dr. Methvin, Center for Breast Health & Imaging Director.  “Because we perform mastectomies for our breast cancer patients, we recognized the need for breast reconstructive surgery, as well. After bringing Dr. Wall on staff last year, we felt this was the right time to offer breast reconstructive surgery to improve continuity of care for our patients,” Dr. Methvin continued.

As the region’s only surgeon who is fellowship trained in surgical breast oncology, Dr. Wall will assist Dr. Howell in the breast reconstruction process.

“For our breast cancer patients, adding this new specialty allows them to stay close to home for reconstructive surgery and follow up appointments,” said Dr. Wall. “Before bringing this specialty to Starkville, our patients were traveling at least two hours for breast reconstruction surgery, so not only are we able to now offer this close to home, but we’re also able to follow our patients through the entire process,” continued Dr. Wall.

While Dr. Howell was recruited predominantly to provide breast reconstruction services locally for the Center’s mastectomy patients, he also performs a variety of other reconstructive, elective and cosmetic procedures, including hand reconstruction, breast augmentation, blepharoplasty (eye lid surgery), abdominoplasty (tummy tuck), as well as botox and filler injections.

“From the techs and nurses to the anesthesia team, the surgical staff at OCH has done an excellent job. The first breast reconstruction surgery we did took three hours from start to finish, which is right on par for the length of time for that particular surgery,” explained Dr. Howell.

“By adding Dr. Howell to our team, our medical staff of more than 100 physicians now represents 20different specialties, and that’s something we’re very proud to offer to this community,” said OCH Chief Medical Officer Harry Holliday, MD. “We have doctors who are here because they want to be here. They enjoy working at OCH and serving the people of this community, and that helps us achieve our number one goal, which is to provide the very best care to our patients.”

For an appointment with Dr. Howell or for additional information, call the Center at (662) 615-3800. To find a physicians, click here.



The Right Place at the Right Time—Brought Back from Death after Cardiac Arrest

If there’s ever a good place to go into cardiac arrest, Dave Bragg found it inside the OCH Healthplex, across from the Cardiac Rehab department and steps away from the automated external defibrillator (AED). Bragg said Monday, December 18 was just like any other day at the OCH Wellness Connection where he routinely rides for 20-miles on a stationary bike. 

“My smart watch shows my heartbeat [red dots] where I started riding the bike at 3:26, and at about 3:50, it goes to black. That’s when I hit the ground,” said Bragg.

What happened after the red dots ended is a story Bragg would live to tell. Starkville Firemen Ashley McClain and Brian Clark were working out at the Wellness Connection and grabbed the AED off the wall to shock Bragg’s heart and began CPR.

About a mile down the road, OCH EMS Assistant Director Shedrick Hogan was working at the fire station when he heard the code called at the Wellness Connection. Hogan said he had just gotten back from the hospital and knew all the paramedics were out on calls.

“Lieutenant Harris and I jumped in the fire truck to go to the hospital, and he dropped me off at the ambulance bay,” said Hogan, who has 23 years of experience in EMS. “When I drove the ambulance to the Wellness Connection, they brought Dave out on a stretcher while doing chest compressions. I hooked him up to the cardiac monitor in the ambulance and saw that he had a shockable rhythm and was able to get a pulse. I told one of the guys to jump in the front and drive us to the hospital.”

Bragg experienced ventricular fibrillation, a cardiac rhythm disturbance that occurs when the lower chambers of the heart quiver and don’t pump blood, causing cardiac arrest.

“It was awesome that they shocked his heart so quickly because studies show early defibrillation is what saves lives. The heart is in a quivering motion so the shock helps the heart restart itself,” explained Hogan.

Bragg, who is 58, had one stent put in and spent four days in the hospital. On his way home from the hospital, he made a stop by the Wellness Connection to tell everyone “thank you,” and later made a special trip to the fire department to meet the firemen who saved his life.

“The firemen are the true heroes. They’re the reason I’m still here today. I can’t thank them enough, and I couldn’t have asked for a better team to take care of me that day,” said Bragg.

Bragg now has a more sophisticated device than his smart watch to track his heart rate. He has a blue tooth defibrillator. Each night, a device on his night stand reads his defibrillator and sends a report to his cardiologists.

“It’s nothing but insurance. I don’t have the pacemaker any more, and there’s no damage to the heart that they can see,” said Bragg.

Both of Bragg’s parents passed away of congestive heart failure, and knowing he has a family history of heart disease, he’s always made a conscious effort to live an active lifestyle. In fact, every time he saw OCH Cardiac Rehab Director Jordan Vance inside the OCH Healthplex, he would joke that he was exercising to stay out of her department. Now, Bragg is one of Vance’s patients in the cardiac rehab program.

“We can work as hard as we want to, but we cannot control an anatomical problem or genetic factor.  That’s why it’s so important to start at a young age and be as proactive as possible with nutrition, exercise, regular check-ups, taking medications as prescribed, avoiding risk factor behavior like smoking and sedentary lifestyles,” explained Vance.

“I never thought I’d be in cardiac rehab. That’s why I always rode the bike,” said Bragg who sometimes finds it difficult to work out at a slower pace. “Jordan always tells me, ‘don’t be in a hurry.’”

“We want him to safely get back to normal instead of just jumping back in full speed. It’s a process he has to go through to give his body time to heal and make sure his heart is safe and that he is safe,” said Vance.

OCH’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Program is a supervised education and exercise program for those who have experienced illness associated with cardiovascular disease, including chest pain, heart failure, heart attack, coronary bypass surgery, angioplasty, stents, valve surgery and heart transplant. Vance said part of the program’s goal is to help the patients and their caregivers adjust to a new lifestyle.

“It’s easy for patients to feel bombarded with medications, a new diet and exercise program, so we want to support them so that they’re not overwhelmed. We encourage them to make small changes they can stick with because many times when patients try to change everything at once, they go back to their old ways,” said Vance.

Bragg is quickly meeting his goals in cardiac rehab—he’s already maxed out the 10 pound weight on the dumbbells, 20 minutes on the treadmill, 10 minutes on the arm ergometer and now on level six out of 10 on the NuStep machine.

“Cardiac Rehab has been very helpful. They monitor you while you exercise. They told me I have to graduate before I can go back out there [Wellness Connection] and work out on the machines,” laughed Bragg. “The whole crew over here at the Healthplex is just like over at the main hospital. The staff is wonderful, and they go out of their way to help you.”

Vance said if there’s anything she wants people to take away from Bragg’s story is for people to become CPR certified or at least learn how to perform hands-only CPR.

“You can save a life by knowing how to perform CPR,” said Vance. “That is definitely what saved Dave’s life.”

To learn how to perform hands-only CPR, visit

McKenzie Selected to Lead OCH Regional Wound Healing & Hyperbaric Center

OCH Regional Wound Healing & Hyperbaric Center welcomes Brad McKenzie as the Center’s new program director.

In this position, McKenzie is responsible for overseeing the clinic’s day-to-day operations such as quality management, reimbursement, performance improvement, and community education

“I’m proud to be a part of a team of true professionals who treat our patients with love and kindness,” said McKenzie. “I’ve been able to visit other wound care centers throughout the state of Mississippi, and I can say unequivocally that our Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Center is the nicest facility in the state. As the only one of its kind in the Golden Triangle, the Center provides a unique service to those in need of this specialized care.”

McKenzie said he feels right at home at OCH. Not only was the Starkville native born at OCH, but he also spent much of his time at the Medical Center in his former position as a senior sales consultant with Johnson & Johnson. A 2001 graduate of Mississippi State University, McKenzie holds a bachelor of science in business and a minor in marketing. He and his wife, Nicole, have two sons, Luke, 10 and Landon, 6.

The Center, which is recognized as a Center of Distinction, is a member of the Healogics network with access to benchmarking data and proven experience treating approximately 2.5 million chronic wounds. Located inside OCH Regional Medical Center, the Center offers highly specialized wound care to patients suffering from diabetic ulcers, pressure ulcers, infections and other chronic wounds which have not healed in a reasonable amount of time. Some of the leading-edge treatments offered at the Center include negative pressure wound therapy, debridement, application of cellular-based tissue or skin substitutes to the wound, offloading or total contact casts and hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

Patients do not need a referral from a physician to make an appointment. For more information about the Center, click here.


OCH Administrator/CEO Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor:

My purpose in writing this letter is to correct any misleading information, misstatements or implications of wrongdoing by OCH. The following documentation is in response to Supervisor Miller’s recent Letter to the Editor, as well as posts to her Supervisor Facebook page.

Related to Letter to Editor 9/24/17:

Not Fact: Supervisor Miller by referencing Singing River Hospital System appears to be implying that OCH’s retirement situation is like Singing River, casting public doubt on the stability of OCH’s retirement plan.

Fact: OCH has a “defined contribution plan” which is not the same as a “defined benefit or pension plan” with guaranteed retirement benefits. This means contributions, voluntary and employer, are transferred monthly to employees’ personal retirement accounts with VALIC for them to manage.

Not Fact: Supervisor Miller by referencing Singing River Hospital System appears to be implying that OCH has two sets of books, sweetheart contracts, and has not been transparent with its records.

Fact: OCH does not have two sets of books. OCH has never had and does not have any sweetheart contracts with family and friends of trustees and hospital administration. OCH has always complied with the public record access requirements.      

Not Fact: Supervisor Miller stated, “…I did notice very little money was spent on capital improvements”.

Fact: OCH annual capital expenditures:

  • $3.2 Million FY 2017 (11 Months)
  • $5.3 Million FY 2016
  • $2.6 Million FY 2015
  • $2.0 Million FY 2014
  • $2.7 Million FY 2013
  • $5.5 Million FY 2012

Supervisor Miller seems to think that $1,609,560 is a large amount money for annual debt service on the GO 2009 & 2010 bonds.  OCH annual capital expenditures since FY 2012 have been greater than the 2017-18 annual GO bond debt service payments.

Not Fact: Supervisor Miller stated that Ted Woodrell is now being contacted for help from many hospitals and counties in our state.

Fact: An email response from Mississippi Hospital Association on September 29, 2017, stated, “To date (September 29th) Surveys conducted by MHA have not identified other member hospitals utilizing the services of Mr. Woodrell.”

Not Fact: Supervisor Miller cited from the Stroudwater report, “In our market area, since 2011, OCH has seen a 7.5% decrease, Baptist a 5.7% increase, NMMC a 2.1% increase and all others a 4.5% increase.”

Fact: I could not find these percentages anywhere in the report. Stroudwater only had market data for 2013, 2014 & 2015, as data for 2011 & 2012 was not available. Therefore, I am uncertain how Supervisor Miller obtained these percentages.

Not Fact: Supervisor Miller stated, “…$21 million ‘reserve’ is not truly all ‘liquid assets’.  A large portion of those funds are already allocated or tied to guarantees on bonds, etc.”

Fact: OCH is not required to use the $21 million as a bond guarantee. OCH is only required to pledge its ongoing operational revenues toward bond service payments. The total funds at July 31, 2017, of $21 million are either liquid or can be unrestricted for liquidity purposes without penalty at any time.

Bricklee Miller Oktibbeha County District 4 Facebook Page:

Not Fact: 9/20/17 In reference to the due diligence requests for the hospital bidders, Supervisor Miller stated “201 items requested, 70 not answered or the information so redacted that it was unusable.”

Fact: As of September 14, OCH uploaded 214 (95.5%) of 224 items requested and released partial information of 4 (1.8%) items on the Due Diligence Checklist Summary.

OCH submitted information based upon direction and communication provided by both Butler Snow Attorneys and Ted Woodrell, which included modifying the extent of the line item requests.  They said additional information most likely would be requested if the submitted information was insufficient.

OCH redacted information that was mostly related to protected health information under HIPAA on patients and employees.

On August 29, OCH received a listing of 20 questions from the bidders for additional information.  Responses to these questions were submitted on August 31.  To this date OCH has not been formally notified of 70 items that were not answered.

Not Fact: 9/28/17 Supervisor Miller posted Comparative Income Statements for 10 Months of operation at FY 2017, which is not accurate and generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) were not followed.

10/04/17 “…this projected 6 million dollar loss.”

Fact: The correct loss was $5,066,421. The bottom line loss for FY 2017 10 Months was reported as $5,836,599 and is overstated by $770,178.

Not Fact: 9/24/17 “That is not true of the 21 million…money is allocated and cannot be used.  I will supply the breakdown soon for you.”

10/04/17 “Do you realize the 21 is not usable liquid cash? Much is tied to obligations.”

Fact: Of the total funds at July 31, 2017, $17 million of $21 million is usable upon discretion of the Board of Trustees at any time. These funds are either liquid or can be un-restricted for liquidity purposes without penalty. The $4 million is required for self-insuring professional and general liability claims.

Not Fact: 10/04/17 “Consistency is a basic tenant of accounting.  Mixing accrual and cash accounting is a confusing practice and should be avoided.”

Fact: OCH does not mix accrual and cash accounting.  Cash accounting would in no way accurately reflect the financial position of any hospital in the United States. Depreciation and amortization expenditures are not cash disbursements on our income statement.

Not Fact: 10/04/17 “Expenses to acquire or IMPROVE a business asset that will last longer than a year are not deductible as business expenses, useful life, expensing election, repairs, improvements.”

Fact: Capital acquisitions and capital leases with useful life longer than 1 year are depreciated over the useful life of the equipment or leases using straight-line depreciation as adopted by the Board of Trustees. This means depreciation and amortization are recognized each year as noncash disbursements.

Not Fact: 10/07/17 “I was contacted by numerous concerned employees that were made to attend meetings at OCH. This [picture of newspaper articles] is part of the information being distributed.”

Fact: I responded directly to her post stating these materials were not distributed to employees. Employees attended mandatory educational sessions about what can and cannot be done on the clock in regards to the referendum. The educational PowerPoint was presented to employees and to the Board of Trustees. The pictures of articles that she posted were the same articles that were NOT distributed to our employees but to our Board of Trustees.

Not Fact: 10/17/17 “…you the taxpayers hold the debt. You pay $24 million per week in taxes to support  . Absolutely, as your supervisor I have the facts and support protecting all the taxpayers in district 4.”

Fact: For FY 2017/2018 the Board of Supervisors has assessed $1,609,560 for bond payments, which is $30,953/week, not $24 million. The BOS has assessed $200,000 for EMS services, which is $3,846/week. This totals $34,799/week, NOT $24 million.

As documented above, whether intentionally or unintentionally, Supervisor Miller has misled the public on numerous issues on many occasions. I encourage the public to fact check all information.

Richard G. Hilton, FACHE

OCH Regional Medical Center