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Doctors Memorial: People you know caring for people you love

by Hazel Wells Tison

These words are a slogan chosen by the Doctors Memorial Hospital’s new hospital board that has two new members, Jennie Belser Goodman and Jerry Dixon and carry-over Cynthia Brooks who hit the ground running less than a year ago. The board  is still in need of two additional members, one from district one and one from district 2. In addition, new staff doctor Nguyn is now the CEO and Emergency Medicine director.   He is receiving high marks for his organizational skills as well as the medical expertise  he brings to DMH. 

A “Critical Access Hospital” Bonifay’s Doctors Memorial is one of ten so designated in the State of Florida. That means that we provide access to critical health care in rural areas where it might otherwise be difficult to obtain. Medical personnel describe “the golden hour” in patient care as that first hour following a serious accident or a medical emergency such as a stroke or heart attack.  The treatment during that “golden hour” will often determine if the patient survives, to what extent he recovers or if he receives debilitating medical conditions. That early treatment  is the task of a CAH.

Doctor's Memorial Hospital

An example is illustrated by this testimonial of a DMH employee, Sherlon Flournoy.(Feb 2,2020) “I was at work on the med-surg floor at the hospital. After making rounds with the doctors I was sitting at my computer when I had this sharp pain around my heart area. Someone said,”Let's get an EKG to make sure everything is O.K. I stood up to go for the EKG and all of a sudden I couldn’t move. My coworkers got a wheelchair and carried me to the ER where I was bombarded with a precision team of  doctors and nurses. I was scared and unable to speak well.  They hooked me up to a tele-medicine neurologist who recommended that I be given TNKASE to break up the blood clot causing my problem. By the time I was transported to Flowers Hospital in Dothan, I was able to speak. The  ER doctor there said, “I don’t know where you were sent from, but they did a great job caring for you.” Sharlon can’t say too many good things about the nurses, doctor and entire staff that took care of her.  If not for them, I might not be here today. High praise for the caring  EMTs also and their thoughtfulness in offering a prayer before speeding to Dothan.

This is just one example of how a CAH (Critical Access Hospital) is so necessary in a rural setting like we are.  And yet these rural hospitals are closing at an alarming pace.  Campbellton-Graceville, Elba General and Florida Memorial, small hospitals in the area have closed.BUT WE WILL NOT CLOSE. WE CAN NOT CLOSE.

One of the new doctor's from Doctor's Memorial gives a presentation to the community of Holmes County on the changes coming to the hospital.

Though we have been going through financial difficulties due partially to the debt incurred in building the fine facility that we have been recognized for nationally.  Another factor is the number of patients DMH treats who are unable to pay. Uncompensated patient care in 2019 totaled approximately one million dollars.  Lost revenue from uncollectable debt totaled 2.6 million last year.  But DMH does not turn anyone away due to inability to pay. Thus, it is easy to see that additional funding is necessary to keep our Critical Access Hospital viable.

As a result of these facts, the Board is asking the citizens to support a one-half cent sales tax designated to run from the effective date of January 21, 2021, and  ending on Dec. 31, 2026.

DMH is the third largest employee in the county with 165 employees and 94 live in the county. A University of Florida survey estimates that DMH contributes 19 million dollars back to the County annually.

One of the new doctor's from Doctor's Memorial gives a presentation to the community of Holmes County on the changes coming to the hospital.

Staffing at the local hospital is looking up. In addition to the 8 regular doctors,  DMH is boasting the addition of Dr. Nguyen  CEO and emergency medicine and Pediatrician Dr. Khaled Al-Farawi (Dr. K.).  It is good, allso, to see Dr Unus come out of  “retirement” to serve as a Hospitalist in our hospital.  Doctors who  have seen the potential of this Critical Access Hospital located alongside the interstate highway and busy Highway 79 and are scheduled to come aboard the staff in the next few months are Dr. Jordan Godbey  Hospitalist, Dr. John Jones, Emergency Medicine, Dr. George Barrio, Neurology, Dr. James McLoughlin, Orthopedics and Dr. Veckhai Arunakul, General Surgery.

Our 20 private room rural health clinic is fully equipped and staffed to provide  in-patient and out-patient care, With the financial support provided by the ½  cent sales tax, we will see a bright future for our beautiful home-town hospital.  (I am indebted to Mrs. Brooks, the Board and the staff for the contents of this article.)