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SUPPORT DOCTORS MEMORIAL: THE HOSPITAL WHERE PEOPLE YOU KNOW CARE FOR PEOPLE YOU LOVE

Cynthia Brooks
GUEST WRITER

BONIFAY - To maintain high standards of care, Doctors Memorial Hospital is requesting the help of all Holmes County citizens by voting “YES” on the referendum, November 3rd 2020 for a half cent sales tax. The ordinance expires December 31, 2026 and the funds will be used to pay for existing debt incurred during the construction of the new hospital facility. Dr. Huy Nguyen,  hospital ER physician and CEO states, “I am honored to have been chosen to lead Doctors Memorial. As a physician, and CEO, I believe we have all the fundamental building blocks to grow one of the best rural hospitals in America, and I am excited at the opportunity to bring the doctors to Doctors Memorial.”

Doctors Memorial Hospital (DMH) was founded in 1957. The late State Senator Harvey J. Belser of Bonifay helped write the bill that funded the original hospital on Byrd Avenue.  In 2007, with new technology needed and no way to retrofit the old hospital, the Board of Directors voted to replace the hospital with a new modern facility located at the intersection of Interstate 10 and highway 79. To fund the new hospital, the Board approved acquiring a 16.9 million bond. The new state of the art hospital was completed in one year and was dedicated on February 14, 2008. 

Doctor's Memorial Hospital is located just South of the I-10 overpass in Bonifay

DMH is one of only ten (10) Critical Access Hospitals in the state of Florida. A CAH provides access to health care in rural areas where health care might otherwise be difficult to obtain.  Our area is critically dependent on DMH to make sure health care is available in our rural communities. Furthermore, rural hospitals like DMH play a critical role in providing quick access to emergency care where patients can the assessed, stabilized and given lifesaving treatment. The “Golden Hour” is the hour that can make the difference between life and death or debilitation. 

Nationwide, rural hospitals are closing at an alarming rate leading to increased deaths especially with cardiac and stroke patients.  Four hundred thirty (430) hospitals are in danger of closing according to NBC news. In our area, Campbellton-Graceville, Elba General, and Florida Memorial have closed. Consider how those communities are doing without a healthcare anchor. Consider the impact on our local community if Doctors Memorial Hospital had to close its doors. The Board of Directors and the staff of DMH are determined and dedicated to making.

DMH Board members are selected according to the five County Commission Districts in Holmes County. Board members serve on a volunteer-non paid capacity for a four year term.

Applications are submitted to the Governor’s office for review and approval. The positions for Districts one and two are open.  Anyone interested in applying for either of these  positions must live in the district forto which they are applying.  They can apply online under Gubernatorial appointments. The present board members are Mrs. Cynthia Brooks, chairperson, Mrs. Jennie Goodman and Mr. Jerry Dixon. 

Question to the Community: WHY WE AS A COUNTY SHOULD SUPPORT THE 1/2 CENT SURTAX

One thing to keep in mind is that DMH does not turn anyone away, whether they can pay or not. Uncompensated or charity care has been an enormous burden for small rural hospitals, DMH charity care in 2019 alone was approximately one million dollars. Uncollectible debt was 2.6 million dollars, for a total of 3.6 million dollars in lost revenue.

In addition, DMH is burdened with a large debt incurred when the new hospital was built. For these reasons, the board is asking the citizens of Holmes County to support the half cent sales tax. It would go into effect January 1, 2021 and expires December 31, 2026.

Any business that sustained that kind of loss continually would not survive. With the help of our citizens from all over the county, we can provide the care our county deserves. The Board of Directors have pledged that if we can get the surtax passed, DMH will in 2021 deliver the following:

  • Establishing satellite Health Clinics to serve our county residents so they will not have to go outside the county for their health care.
  • Providing intensive care with equipping and staffing a four bed ICU with monitors, ventilators and a doctor on staff so that critically ill patients do not need to be transferred out of our community creating a further burden on patients and their families.
  • A University of Florida study estimated DMH contributes 19 million dollars back to the county.

DMH is the 3rd largest employer in the county employing 165 employees with 94 living in the county and the remaining living nearby. The hospital is a major employer and economic engine  in our community. But most importantly, DMH provides great care from emergency “Golden Hour” care to outpatient chronic care whether patients can pay or not. 

The front lobby of Doctor's Memorial Hospital

SERVICES OFFERED BY DMH 

  • 24/7 emergency care provided by experienced clinicians staff members whose goal is to treat patients like family
  • 20 private medical/surgical inpatient rooms with single chair/bed conversion unit for a family member (after Covid crisis is over), TV and internet service
  • A rural health clinic that provides outpatient care
  • A pediatric clinic that employs the only pediatrician in our area
  • 24/7 Fully staffed and equipped Laboratory with Blood Bank available
  • 24/7 Fully staffed and equipped X-Ray department, able to relieve back pain with facet joint injections, mammography, Bone densitometry, CT, ultrasound, Fluoroscopic procedures
  • MRI on site, owned by the hospital available for appointment M-F
  • Fully equipped and staffed Physical Therapy Department, with aquatic therapy, speech therapy, wound care, and stroke rehabilitation available
  • Infusion Therapy for outpatient IV medications in a comfortable setting. DMH is 340B eligible making it possible to provide care that other facilities may refuse for insurance reasons. Some diagnoses treated by infusion include: Crohn’s Disease, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, CHF, and immune deficiency disorders
  • Surgeries, including EGD and Colonoscopies, Biopsies, tonsillectomies, cholecystectomies (Gall Bladder removal) as well as many other surgical procedures
  • Pulmonary Rehabilitation and treatment of cardiopulmonary disease
  • Respite care, temporary stay in the hospital to give caregivers of a terminally ill loved one some time to recuperate from the rigorous demands of daily caregiving           

What's coming to DMH in the next few months:

  • 3D mammography
  • Orthopedic surgery and procedures
  • Neurological procedures
  • Four bed fully staffed ICU with the most updated equipment including monitors ventilators, and telemedicine capability
  • Nuclear Medicine
  • A Health Clinic in Ponce de Leon for Holmes County residents west of the Choctawhatchee River pending the passing of surtax referendum. Other satellite clinics will follow throughout the county.
  • Swing bed therapy is a program for rural hospitals that allows patients to return to their local community hospital to recover from surgery
  • These patients qualify to stay longer in the hospital setting in order to have access to physical therapy twice a day, six (6) days a week 
  • This opportunity is necessary for patients who do not have anyone to drive them to therapy once or twice a day.

DMH is implementing concierge medicine, where patients are treated like a hotel guest, with staff taking care of scheduling details and getting timely information for patients. DMH will soon have a van to provide transportation to and from appointments for the hospital or hospital associated doctor’s offices, lab work, X-Rays, etc. DMH will be offering a menu with choices for each meal.

If a patient or family member has any problem with their care or treatment from anyone at DMH, please contact JoAnn Baker at (850) 547-8001 or email at JoAnn.Baker@doctorsmemorial.org ; or they can contact Rohan Anderson at (850) 547-8005 or email at rohan@doctorsmemorial.org. At DMH, we want to address any problems that arise, however, we must be made aware of any issues before we can take corrective action.

Meet the Doctors of DMH:

  • Dr. Huy Nguyen CEO (Emergency Medicine)
  • Dr. Dale Mitchum (General Surgery)
  • Dr. Mohammad Yunus (Hospitalist)
  • Dr. John Tomberlin (Radiology)
  • Dr. Kyle Contini (Family Medicine)
  • Dr. Rebekah Contini (Family Medicine)
  • Dr. Patrick Hawkins (Family Medicine)
  • Dr. Samuel Ward (Family Medicine)
  • Dr. Khaled Al-Farawi, aka “Dr. K” (Pediatrics)
  • Dr. Leisa Bailey (Family Medicine)
  • Dr. Jordan Godbey (Hospitalist)
  • Dr. Jon Jones (Emergency Medicine)
  • Dr. George Barrio (Neurology)
  • Dr. James McLoughlin (Orthopedics)
  • Dr. Vechai Arunakul (General Surgery)

Read some testimonials from area residents:  

 “I really feel this hospital saved my life, the nurses treated me like family; they even came and checked on me at home.”  Aaron Cooley, 9/23/2020

“ I had knee replacement surgery on both knees, six months apart. Each time, I transferred to DMH Swing Bed for physical therapy. I did not have anyone to drive me to therapy. I felt as if I were in a hotel room with room service. I had my medications on time to help me with the pain associated with therapy after a major operation. I was treated so well and I highly recommend the Swing Bed option at DMH.” Cynthia Brooks, 8/28/2020)

 “Each time I visit Doctors Memorial Hospital, I am impressed with the cleanliness and aesthetic appearance of the facility. I especially appreciate the very friendly attitude and the professionalism exhibited by all the personnel I come in contact with. The staff always makes me feel special and safe when I have had procedures done there. It is my choice of hospitals in the area.” Gwen Young, Graceville, Florida 9/25/2020

  “On February 2, 2020, I was at work on med-surg floor at Doctors Memorial Hospital. After making rounds with the physician, I was sitting at the computer and experienced a real sharp pain around my heart. Someone said to me let's get an EKG to make sure everything is okay.  I stood up to go and all of a sudden I couldn't do anything or even move… My fellow co-workers got a wheelchair and carried me to the emergency room where I was bombarded by the Doctors and nursing staff.  Everyone was working together like a precision team with each one doing a specific job to do…I was not speaking very well and I was scared.  Our tele-medicine machine had me hooked up to a neurologist quick and he told my family that I was having what appeared to be a stroke and that I needed to have TNKASE to burst the clot…Thank God because by the time I was transferred to Flowers Hospital in Dothan, Alabama, I was able to speak normally and was experiencing no pain.  The ER Doctor at Flowers said I don't know where you came from but they did a great job on caring for you. He was so right!!! The nurses, doctor and the entire staff , x-ray, lab, etc., are GREAT.  Holmes County EMS was also so kind and I will never forget how comforting it was to have one of the paramedics pray with me and my family before leaving for Dothan.  Thank God for all the knowledge everyone has who worked at Doctors Memorial Hospital.  If not for them, I may not be here today.”  Sherolyn Flournoy, 9/26/2020

“I brought her (Mama) to Doctors Memorial Hospital and I have to say they have been amazing…I’m grateful to have such quality care close to home.” Carol Wyatt, Chipley  9/20/2020”