July 21, 2008 Rotogram

EDUCATION IN MISSISSIPPI

Hank Bounds, Mississippi’s superintendent of education, highlights the state’s schools status today.

LAST WEEK

Invocation and Pledge: Grant Arinder

Attendance: There were 125 members (37 exempt, 1 honorary) present, and 74 (20 exempt, 6 honorary) absent.

Guests and Visitors: Visiting Rotarians were Bill Overstreet and Eddie Longstreet of West Point, and Nick Ardillo of Columbus. Members’ guests included Ben Carver of P.C. McLaurin, Mack Flynn of John Robert Arnold, Mike Andrews and Richard Hilton of Sonny Kelly, Zach Leach of Robert Leach. Guests of the Club were Allison Noffsinger (Ambassadorial Scholar), Chamath Wijewardane (OCH) and Paul Sims (Starkville Daily News).

Club Notes: President Chip Templeton noted recent accomplishments of several Rotarians:

  • Marshall Molen’s Challenge X student automotive design team was honored with a legislative resolution authored by Sen. Gary Jackson.
  • Warren Housley and Ed Clynch have been elected officers in MSU’s Association of Retired Faculty.
  • Andrea Myles has graduated with the latest class of the Oktibbeha County Leadership FORUM.

Past District Governor Jack Forbus presented the DG’s banner from the Thionville Rotary Group Study Exchange Team for our archives. He reminded the Club that next year’s district exchange is with India and the 2010 exchange is with Italy.

Carolyn Jackson is making good progress in her recuperation and may be able to rejoin us in about a month.

Chip reminded members to mark their calendars for the evening of October 6 and our fall social.

OKTIBBEHA COUNTY HOSPITAL SEEKS IMPROVEMENT BOND ISSUE

Health care at both ends of life is the focus of Oktibbeha County Hospital’s proposed $27.5 million upgrade. Rotarian Sonny Kelly, OCH Administrator/CEO, explained the needs behind the 20-year bond issue to be funded by a proposed 8.4 mil property tax increase.

The renovation and expansion timeline has a planned start date in summer 2009 with projected completion in 2011.

The project will renovate the original 1973 facility to better serve the “booming baby business.” Kelly explained that 2008 American Hospital Association statistics show that OCH delivers more babies than the 3-times larger Baptist Memorial Hospital – Golden Triangle in Columbus. OCH provides obstetric service to 6 surrounding counties. The hospital averages 3 deliveries per day; however, there are times when all 6 birthing suites are in use.

In addition to improved birthing and nursery facilities, the plans include enlarged patient rooms. Every 3 existing rooms will be combined to become 2 rooms. Room size will increase from 100 sq. feet to 150 sq. feet.

Even with the room size increase, OCH will maintain its current 96 bed capacity. A new tower to the west of the current building will include patient rooms, new waiting areas and a parking deck.

Since 1982, OCH has invested more than $77 million in facilities improvements and equipment upgrades. The recently completed south tower was funded by private financing totaling $30 million.

Kelly said that indebtedness stretched the limits of the hospital’s ability to pay in light of declining reimbursements. Medicare, Medicaid and insurance programs now pay flat rates, thus the institution can no longer shift its costs to its profits.

Noting that OCH’s last public bond issue was passed 30 years ago, Kelly said, “Outside of some help from the city, county and university in ambulance service, we rarely reach out for community funding.”

With 600 staff members, OCH is the county’s second largest employer. The annual payroll pumps $31 million back into area economies.

Among the hospital’s health care services is the HealthPlex that includes the Wellness Connection, the Cardiac Rehabilitation Department, and physical, occupational and speech therapy services.

A broad range of other services includes a Pulmonary Wellness Program; CPR and first-aid classes; smoking cessation classes; arthritis, diabetes and stroke support groups; a comprehensive risk reduction program; safe sitter classes; and, a Lifeline Emergency Response System.

Specialty operations include the Center for Breast Health and Imaging, the Center for Pain management, the Center for Sleep Medicine/Sleep Studies, and the Center for Diabetes Management.

Sports medicine programs include athletic trainer certification and complimentary sports physicals for area athletes.

Noting that independent hospitals are a vanishing breed, Kelly touted the importance of advanced technology and a well-trained staff to the community’s economic development. The active medical staff has grown from 11 to 50 doctors in the hospital’s 35-year history.

SHALOM, ALLI

Starkville Rotary’s globe-trotting ambassador Allison Noffsinger took the last opportunity to lunch with us before heading for Tel Aviv University.

District 6820’s latest Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar leaves for a year’s study in Israel on July 28. As she noted, that’s five years to the day after she left for her Youth Exchange year in Arequipa, Peru.

Alli is looking forward to continuing the Arabic language studies she began at Western Kentucky University. She also plans to add Hebrew to her vocabulary.

Her studies will focus on international relations and the Middle Eastern conflict and economy.

She said, “Thank you so much. Rotary has changed my life from Peru to Tel Aviv!”

President Chip introduced two new members’ classification talks by giving their committee assignments including “the Christmas float.”

NEW MEMBERS

Mike McGrevey, MSU’s vice president for finance and administration, recounted his military career noting that he served with fellow Rotarians Mike Hainsey and Nick Ardillo.

His duty stations included Columbus AFB, the Pentagon, San Antonio AFB, South Korea, Europe, Saudi Arabia Kuwait and Thule, Greenland. Responsible for budget, accounting and finance, he explained “

After the fighting stopped, it was my job to ask ‘Why did you lose this or that?’”

The Ocean Springs native retired in 2000 and became the director of the Sonny Montgomery Institute in Meridian. He and wife Ada have two children.

Scott Dodd, the new Express Personnel Services franchise owner, has managed temporary staffing services in Jackson and Raleigh, N.C. for more than a decade. A Columbus native, he was excited to return to the area when Mike and Stu Vance decided to retire from the local franchise. He said, “It’s fun to be able to help my two customers — the prospective employer and the employee.

A graduate of the Mississippi University for Women, Scott is married with two children. He is a veteran of 4 years’ military service.

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