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NMMC fills community relations facilitator post

Tupelo — Ask John Heer — North Mississippi Medical Center’s (NMMC’s) president and chief executive officer who was hired this summer — about community and patient advocacy, and he’ll tell you that every employee in the company should embrace such a role in his or her daily responsibilities.

Nonetheless, it helps to have formalized focus to the effort. That’s why the company announced the September hiring of Ormella Cummings of Fulton as NMMC’s first community relations facilitator. In the newly created position, Cummings reports directly to Heer.

“While we don’t lose sight of the importance of a commitment on everyone’s part, Ormella’s specific job responsibilities will be heavily focused on the community,” Heer said in a telephone interview following the announcement of Cummings’ employment. “She will be responsible for ensuring that NMMC improves and enhances its presence in the community. This will include visits to various civic organizations, support groups, schools and other organizations.”

Cummings’ role is notable, as earlier this year some community residents questioned whether the institution had drifted from its mission. Subsequently, NMMC has established a community phone line and has met with legislators and community leaders in an effort to garner feedback. The organization has also produced several open letters to the community via advertisements and has provided additional information on its Web site.

Cummings, who has a consulting background, also worked as the regional human resources manager for Canadian National/Illinois Central Railroad and as director of human resources for the Tupelo Public School District. Her employment at NMMC is a homecoming of sorts, as she worked as a human resources supervisor in career services for NMMC from 1989-1998.

Rodger Brown, NMMC vice president for human resources, said that Cummings brings a host of skills and expertise to the role. “As a lifelong resident of Itawamba County and as an individual who has a good understanding of hospital operations, she will provide a unique perspective in her role as community relations facilitator.”

From his perspective, Heer said that community relations is a top priority. As such, Cummings will serve as a liaison between NMMC’s administrative staff, board of directors and the community.

“While Ormella will be responsible for identifying opportunities, the entire leadership team will support her through speaking engagements, small group presentations and periodic focus group feedback sessions,” Heer said.

Heer noted that it is important for the community to feel comfortable in maintaining a dialogue with the organization. Since her employment, Cummings said she has been busy meeting with various community groups, attending everything from breakfast and luncheon club meetings to visiting schools in an effort to answer questions about NMMC.

“Working in concert with John Heer and the NMMC team, I feel very good about the feedback we’re receiving,” Cummings observed.

Cummings brings an impressive educational background to the role. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Mississippi and holds a master’s degree in guidance and counseling and a doctorate in educational psychology from Ole Miss. She is a certified senior professional in human resources and is a graduate of Leadership Mississippi.

Contact MBJ contributing writer Karen Kahler Holliday at mbj@msbusiness.com.

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