Roshanda Thomas

Hospital unveils 5-year strategy

Community is at the heart of Memorial Medical Center’s strategic plan as it continues down a path of rapid transformation and re-evaluation.

Goals are to increase its connections to the community and revolutionize how it plans to provide healthcare to the community.

To that end, MMC will be pursuing a new strategy to help redefine its role in Calhoun County as a health provider, including changing its name to Memorial Medical Healthcare Systems (MMHS) soon.

“We truly have a journey that we are taking. We’re on a bus that is heading to a destination of Successville, and we’re going to have to look at different ways to grow the services that we have and maximize what we can offer to the community,” Roshanda Thomas, MMC CEO, said. “There may be some changes where we look at our offered services to see if they are meeting the community needs… But there’s no reason for anyone in Calhoun County, if we have the services here, to seek care elsewhere. We have great, innovative things that are about to happen, and we want them to be a part of it.”

To better help define and direct this new strategy, Chief Strategist Dr. Dhaval Patel helped narrow the core areas of development that will help propel MMC forward into the future, starting with patient experience followed by quality of service, profitability, and community impact.

“The landscape of rural healthcare across America has changed from two years ago, five years ago, 10 years ago, for sure 20 years ago, that every hospital, clinic, and practice that wants to make a pronounced difference has to think outside of the box,” Patel said. “To do that, they need the following: best patient experience, greatest quality services available, maximizing our profitability, and showing evidence with the community. Those are the four pillars of our strategic plan.”

The reason for this recontextualizing of health care in Calhoun County comes from a desire to adapt to a rapidly changing landscape in rural healthcare settings. According to Dr. Patel, innovating the way hospitals are seen by their community is essential in delivering care to patients effectively and with impact.

“If you are not actively out in the community finding the right people, programs, plans, and partnerships, you’re going to be limited in what you will be able to do,” Patel said.

Another factor that MMC will be pursuing is that of holding themselves accountable to people whom they both provide care for and are directly funded by. Whether it comes from grants or the county, as Dr. Patel explains, it is MMC’s responsibility to be community stewards.

“Money is coming into our system, and we need to be accountable. Someone is paying us. Someone is financing us, and people are donating to us, so we have to be an excellent community steward and show them what we’re doing with that money,” Patel said. “Whatever we’re doing, we will be doing it in a very open and accountable, transparent manner. We want to be questioned. With that feedback, we can become better and stronger.”

Parts of these plans have already begun to be rolled out, with MMC staff attending more events and directly trying to expand its reach through the community through collaborations with local businesses and organizations. Events such as blood drives or COVID test kit distributions, which recently handed out over 800 tests, also act to drive community engagement.

“One major initiative idea is to increase the amount of community health education that we are going to be creating and offering to Calhoun County,” Patel said. “So we will be very concretely setting up the ideas of monthly community education talks, and then maybe you have our chief of staff sit with 30 to 40 people and talk about obesity or a new drug that’s coming out… We want to get out there more and more readily.”

MMC has also made it a goal to try integrating itself further with the community and find new partnerships.

“As an example, we went to the Rotary Club, where there were other business leaders involved. We talked with a board member of the pregnancy help center to create a baby kit for our nursery,” Patel said. “That’s part of our story.”

However, MMHS isn’t stopping there, and over the next five years will continue to adapt and recreate itself to meet the demands of Calhoun County in the years to come.

“We’re are building a team of individuals with that passion, with that beating heart to say that we are going to be viable, we are going to be sustainable, and our vision, while it may seem far-fetched, we’re going to make sure that everyone in our community understands that it is a vision for everyone to rally behind that this is their hospital,” Thomas said.