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Original building on the National Historic Registry

Gilmore Memorial Hospital building on long history in Amory

Amory — There may be larger hospitals in Mississippi, but few can match Gilmore Memorial Hospital for longevity. Gilmore’s history goes back so far that its original facility is now a museum and on the National Historic Registry.

While the hospital is proud of its history, it is still embracing the future. Gilmore is currently expanding its emergency services and is preparing to build a new multimillion-dollar women’s center. But through all of this, Gilmore is remembering what has gotten it this far — service.

“Over the last 88 years, we have been touched by so many lives,” said Danny J. Spreitler, president and CEO of Gilmore. “During this span, we have always stayed true to our mission — to benefit humanity. We’re here to serve.” To illustrate how unique Gilmore is, Spreitler said he was one of approximately 150 individuals who put in for the position. “It’s a very special place,” he said. “We blessed here in Monroe County.”

The hospital was established April 14, 1916, by Mr. and Mrs. Ellie Davidson Gilmore as Gilmore Sanitarium, and, according to the hospital, was the first modern healthcare facility in North Mississippi. From the beginning, it was self-sufficient. For instance, Gilmore raised its own livestock. That self-sufficiency remains today as non-profit Gilmore remains independent and does not receive any tax monies.

Service has also been a constant at Gilmore, and it continues to push the envelope. Free coffee and help to the car are standard. But Gilmore goes farther. For instance, all of the management team is required to visit every patient in the hospital, giving them their business card and asking about their stay. Twenty percent of their time is expected to be spent in patient/family interaction.

Management training is also a priority at Gilmore. Spreitler said Gilmore has benchmarked itself against the best, and members of the management team are routinely sent to study such entities as the Ritz Carlton Leadership Institute, the Disney Institute and Baptist Hospital Inc. in Pensacola, Fla., to learn more effective methods to manage people and operations. And the hospital is also firm believer in Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”

To ensure that the staff is effective in meeting patients’ needs, Gilmore has an ongoing employee enrichment program. For example, Gilmore brings in speakers, such as Jack Canfield, author of the popular “Chicken Soup” series of books. This year, the hospital will host Mark Sanborn, noted motivational speaker and best-selling author.

While Gilmore continues to concentrate on the “little” things, some big changes are in the works. Ground has been broken on the new emergency room, a $1.2-million project. When completed, the state-of-the-art facility will include a trauma room and cardiac treatment space. The new facility will triple Gilmore’s current emergency services space, and it is expecting to treat more than 15,000 people within the first year of operation. The project’s completion date is set for August.

“When completed, Gilmore Memorial Hospital will have the first patient-focused emergency room in North Mississippi,” said Spreitler, a native of Wiggins and a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi (computer science). “Not only will a new facility be in place, but a new methodology will be practiced in order to best meet the needs of those who need us.”

The hospital will not have a lot of time to celebrate before it kicks off an even more ambitious project. Work is expected to begin in September on a new Women’s Center, a project 12 months in the making. To be built on the front of Gilmore’s campus, the $10.4-million facility will include a breast center, spa, pediatrics on the top floor and more. (Gilmore currently has a neo-natal intensive care unit in-house.)

Truly a women’s center, the facility was designed by women from ideas gleaned from focus groups composed of women. And, yes, the contractor is a woman. The Women’s Center is expected to take approximately 14 months to build.

Gilmore has 95 beds and employs 416 workers. The hospital estimates that over the course of its nearly 90 years in operation, it has served more than two million patients. Services include intensive care, a transit care unit, women’s health, cardiology, among others.

Spreitler and Gilmore are not content with past laurels, however. Spreitler’s goals are three-fold: become the first rural hospital to ever win the Malcolm Baldrige Award; recruit the best employees in Mississippi; and develop the leaders of tomorrow. Spreitler does not think Gilmore will have to look far for these leaders.

“The future leaders of Gilmore Memorial Hospital are already here,” he said with pride. Summing up his vision for Gilmore’s future, Spreitler simply said it is “to be the best hospital in the country.”
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Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at northway@msbusiness.com.

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