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Little returns to state to head Baptist-Golden Triangle

Columbus — When Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle recently named its new administrator and CEO, it brought back a familiar face to the North Mississippi healthcare community. This marks Jason Little’s second stint in healthcare administration in the region, and he said he is glad to be back.

“Mississippi is a terrific state,” the Tennessee native said. “Mississippi has some outstanding healthcare institutions, and Baptist-Golden Triangle is one of them.”

Jim Ainsworth, vice president and regional market leader for Baptist Memorial Health Care, said, “Jason has proven to be a very dynamic and effective leader throughout his career. I am confident he will be a great fit for Baptist-Golden Triangle.”
Little was raised in Old Hickory, Tenn., a community near Nashville, and from a young age was fascinated with medicine. During his high school years, he did volunteer work in hospitals and wanted to be a doctor.
“After I got to college, I quickly came to the conclusion that I was a business fellow, not a science fellow,” he said. “I had also done a lot of leadership work while I was in high school. And I came to realize I could have just as big of an impact in healthcare as an administrator as I could as a physician.”
Little earned a bachelor’s degree in health administration from the University of Tennessee before receiving an MBA and master’s degree in health administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He also studied medical ethics and the history of healthcare at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital and Medical College in London.

“I don’t know that I gained a unique perspective on the American healthcare system from my studies in England, but it did give me a new appreciation for the system we have here,” Little said. “The English system is very socialized and has its drawbacks. It also has some positives, such as cost containment. The American system is about technology and progress — fun, but dynamic. What has to be remembered is that spending money on technology does not always necessarily lead to better outcomes.”

After returning from England, Little worked in the public health sector for the Tennessee Department of Health, then served in a development role at Baptist Health Centers, a subsidiary of the Baptist Health Systems of Birmingham, Ala., before journeying to Scottsdale, Ariz., as operations administrator at the Mayo Clinic.

Little began his Baptist Memorial Health Care career at Baptist Memorial Hospital-DeSoto in Southaven. He was administrator and CEO of Baptist Memorial Hospital-Collierville in the greater Memphis area when tapped for the top spot at Baptist-Golden Triangle. (Founded in 1912, Baptist Memorial Health Care is headquartered in Memphis and operates 17 hospitals in Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee. Its five Mississippi hospitals are located in Columbus, Southaven, Booneville, New Albany and Oxford. Baptist-Golden Triangle is its largest regional hospital.)

“This is a terrific hospital that has a storied past and an exciting future,” Little said when asked what attracted him to the Baptist-Golden Triangle top post. “Columbus is a relatively small community that needs custom-tailored healthcare. That excites me. That’s what I like.”

Little proudly calls himself a family man, and said that’s also his management style/philosophy. He sees his role as offering empowerment and support to the staff.

“I’m here to help them,” he said. “These people got into the healthcare field because at some time or in some way they were inspired to do so. My job is to find that inspiration and support it.”

Baptist-Golden Triangle was founded in Columbus in 1969. The 11th largest hospital in Mississippi, it has 328 beds (285 acute beds, 22 psychiatric beds and 21 beds in its chemical dependency unit). More than 100 physicians and surgeons represent almost every medical specialty practice at Baptist-Golden Triangle. The hospital offers women’s services, the Baptist Center for Cancer Care, the Outpatient Pavilion, cardiology, emergency services, a sleep disorders laboratory and Baptist Behavioral Health Care, among others. It is also a Level II trauma care center.

And the hospital is still growing. It currently is building a $34-million bed tower that will replace 150 beds. The project is expected to wrap up in the spring of 2005. Little said leading that project to completion is a major challenge.

“Baptist has been at this hospital since 1993, and has invested $100 million back into the facility,” Little said. “Along with recruiting the very best providers and other specialists into the community, a major challenge is to be good stewards of Baptist’s resources.”

Little said his goal is to see that Baptist-Golden Triangle grows with the city of Columbus. He said he would focus on increasing patient satisfaction and to continue to build on the hospital’s reputation for quality care.

Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at northway@msbusiness.com.

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