The North Sunflower Medical Center, in Ruleville, is a hospital that has come back from the brink of extinction, and is bringing the whole community back with it.
It is a thriving critical care facility today, with an emergency room and a nursing home and a wellness center and a clinic that sees over 5000 people a month. And yet just six years ago, this facility was only moments away from closing.
That's the condition it was in when Billy Marlow was promoted from a member of the board of directors, to Chairman of the Board, to acting Administrator, all in short order.
"We had about eight hours of cash on hand with a lot of debt and no patients," said Marlow, who now serves as the Executive Director.
Through a lot of effort, determination, and primarily not knowing they couldn't do this, NSMC turned things around.
"We rank number one in patient satisfaction in the state of Mississippi and in the top 10 in the nation, of all hospitals, not just critical access," said Chief Development Officer Joanie Perkins. "We are the cleanest facility and we have the nicest employees."
That "cleanest" designation is by actual spastics, and the "nicest employees" is a matter of opinion, but stands to reason if you have all of the other accolades. But it was a mess when Billy Marlow took it over.
"I did a survey." said Marlow. "The first thing I did was, ‘Tell me what's wrong. Tell me how to fix it.' And really the employees fixed this."
Well, the fixing didn't stop there. As much as the hospital has improved, so has the town of Ruleville, because the hospital has invested in the city.
"The North Sunflower has obtained several buildings downtown to create different businesses," said Director of Community Relations Robin Barlow. "We have Sunflower Dental Clinic, Sunflower Eye Station, The Diagnostic Center, which is digital mammograms."
And a bunch more. To the extent that this little hospital by all rights should have ceased to exist years ago. And if it did, what was left of the community would have followed.
But it didn't because of the employees, and because of Billy Marlow, who thought they'd fix it rather than let it go.
And in so doing, have Made a Difference for the thousands of patients who are treated there every year, for the 500 plus employees who work there, and the town of Ruleville, all defying the odds and not only surviving, but thriving.
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