Health Management Associates (HMA) Inc., has been taking care of Mississippians since 1990, and now operates 11 facilities throughout the Magnolia State and employs more than 5,500 healthcare professionals on a $257-million annual payroll.
Every year, HMA Mississippi pays more than $13 million in state taxes and makes charitable contributions of more than $1.6 million.
The Naples, Fla.-based healthcare management company handles more than 200,000 annual emergency room visits, more than 50,000 annual inpatient admissions, more than 60,000 inpatient and outpatients surgical procedures, nearly 400,000 annual outpatient visits and delivers nearly 8,000 babies in Mississippi.
Nationwide, the public company (NYSE: HMA) is a leading operator of acute care hospitals, focusing primarily on the southeast and southwest areas of non-urban America, operating 62 hospitals in 16 states with approximately 8,817 licensed beds.
HMA has reported 17 years of consistent growth, with a return on equity consistently higher than most of its competitors. Even though the hospital management group is highly attuned to the bottom line, it has a benevolent spirit. After Hurricane Katrina struck the Mississippi Gulf Coast, affecting HMA’s Biloxi Regional Medical Center, the company shifted into overdrive to help area residents and hospital employees.
“The rapid response to our every need by HMA in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was absolutely amazing,” said Pamela McVey, chief nursing officer for Biloxi Regional Medical Center. “They made sure we had everything we needed to care for our patients and our community. They also went to extreme efforts to make sure that their employees and our physicians’ needs were taken care of. HMA was in constant contact asking, ‘What do you need? What do you want? What can we do for you?’
“They provided the basics and the necessities of food, water, clothes and even some temporary housing for employees. They also provided chocolate, soft drinks, gum and many of the creature comforts we were craving. They sent in experts to help us with the multitude of problems we were facing. HMA sent cash for all employees. Our payroll was right on time, not one day late. HMA corporate executives were on the phone with us and they were here in person. The entire HMA family of corporate staff and sister HMA hospitals was with us in prayer and in spirit. I’ve always been proud to be a part of HMA. Hurricane Katrina solidified it. HMA not only talks about quality, integrity, but the people of HMA embody it.”
HMA continues to grow its Mississippi division, and has a certificate of need (CON) filed with the Mississippi State Department of Health to replace the existing Madison County Medical Center.
“This is a much-needed replacement facility that will provide the people of Madison County with vital access to advanced medical care and services,” said Julie Grantham, director of business development and marketing for HMA Mississippi. “The CON is being challenged by St. Dominic Health System. We’re hopeful they’ll withdraw opposition to this CON so that we can move forward with building a new, modern hospital that the community deserves.”
On the record
Recently, the Mississippi Business Journal chatted with Dale Armour, HMA Mississippi divisional vice president, about the corporation’s work in Mississippi.
Mississippi Business Journal: Your operating philosophy calls for an active acquisition program, proactive recruitment of doctors, and maintaining a technological edge. Why is each factor so important to the system in Mississippi?
Dale Armour: Healthcare is a very dynamic industry, one that is extremely sensitive to technological advances. Mississippi has historically been a state that has worked hard to keep quality healthcare services accessible for its citizens. It’s a challenge for hospitals, particularly smaller, community hospitals, to keep pace with the latest technological advances, attract physicians and maintain qualified staff. HMA has developed an organizational framework and operational procedures that give our hospitals the tools and resources they need to thrive in the communities they serve. Our hospital leaders work to build a strong medical staff, a committed, caring clinical staff and support their local communities and the state with jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenues. Each year, HMA re-invests significant capital dollars in each of the hospitals to help maintain the physical plants and the level of technology of the equipment.
In the past fiscal year, HMA made capital improvements of almost $42 million in the Mississippi hospitals. We provide scholarships for nursing and allied health students to help educate Mississippians who want to pursue careers in the medical professions. And, our leadership and employees are encouraged to give of their personal time to support community and civic projects. We truly partner with the people we serve on many levels.
MBJ: Being named one of the Best Places to Work in Mississippi reflects the employee friendly workplace you try to maintain. What do you do to reach that goal and why is it important to hospital success?
DA: The leadership team at each of our hospitals takes a very active role in employee relations and communications. Each CEO is empowered to implement programs and communications tools that suit his/her personal style and facility. Because the work we do in hospitals is very intense, we encourage our management teams to remain close to the employees and attentive to their needs and concerns. Some examples of things the CEOs and their leadership teams do: host regular “town meetings” for employees, monthly birthday celebrations, service awards dinners and participate in community fundraisers. Yes, we have a few CEOs who have dressed as Elvis and John Wayne! The list goes on and on, but the main point is we know our employees help people deal with some of life’s toughest moments, and we strive very hard to create a supportive atmosphere where they can grow in their professions, but also enjoy some lighthearted, fun moments associated with their work. All of our hospitals have quarterly and annual employee, nurse and department manager awards that allow us to honor those who demonstrate outstanding customer service. Our employees are also routinely surveyed and we use that feedback to make improvements in our personnel management and processes.
MBJ: Tell us about the response on the Mississippi Gulf Coast to help HMA employees and community residents after Hurricane Katrina?
DA: The response from hospitals in the HMA system, both in Mississippi and throughout the nation, was incredible. We were truly awed by the generosity and thoughtfulness of everyone. The corporate office organized a massive relief response that involved everything from setting up a triage ER in the parking lot at Biloxi Regional Medical Center in the days immediately after the storm to sister hospitals sending nurses, support personnel and supplies. Additionally, HMA Mississippi employees spearheaded the collection of money and toys for the “Christmas for the Coast” project. The care and commitment shown by the HMA family was, and continues to be, inspirational.
HMA and Biloxi Regional are very involved in the rebirth of the Coast region. The hospital’s CEO, Tim Mitchell, is currently the healthcare leader of the Mayor’s Renaissance Committee for the revival of Biloxi. The recent addition of Gulf Coast Medical Center to the HMA Mississippi family of hospitals is a great example of our commitment to the Coast region. In addition to having Biloxi Regional Medical Center and Gulf Coast Medical Center (including Gulf Oaks Hospital, the GCMC psychiatric unit) providing inpatient care and related services, HMA also operates The Healing Center, The Industrial Health and Wellness Clinic and Lakeview Family Medicine Center, supplying much-needed medical care, economic stability and other vital healthcare resources.
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne W. Jeter at Lynne.Jeter@gmail.com.