Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Little Hospital that Could!

Sometimes it only takes one person to turn a situation around. I met such a person in Ruleville, MS. I’m hopeful that his success with turning around North Sunflower Medical Center in Ruleville will serve as a model to help resurrect that town and hopefully spread to other parts of the Delta.

Billy Marlow was born at the North Sunflower Medical Center but worked as a catfish farmer and real estate developer before being asked to step forward in 2004 to run the rapidly failing hospital that was days away from closing. He had no experience in the medical field! But no one else would step into a failing situation.

In 2003 the hospital lost $1.7 million but by 2005 Billy had turned that loss into a profit and last year the hospital earned almost $1 million. As importantly, employment has grown from 180 to 266 and the payroll has more than doubled to $9 million. The hospital is a key driver of economic growth in a very poor community and employment growth at the hospital ripples through the community.

With 82% of the hospital’s business being Medicare funded, Billy’s only option was to diversify and grow into new areas. He has grown revenues from $6 million to over $20 million by growing a rural health clinic, open every night of the week until midnight, which also took people out of the high-priced emergency room and saved operating costs at the hospital. Patient visits have gone from 1,458 in 2004 to a projected 14,500 this year. In addition, he also grew the hospital’s nursing home and home health businesses.

It is an amazing turnaround and one of the beacons of prosperity and hope in the rural Delta.


mildredlea said...

Three cheers for Billy Marlow! Ruleville seems a sad place when I visit: all my family has passed away but I still visit the Cemetery! I have been all over the world but my favorite place in this world is the Ruleville cemetery! Really! Those folks that I knew and loved are all there! Carolyn White Postlethwaite Ruleville High graduate 1960 DSU graduate August 1969

BoomtownUSA said...

Carolyn: It is people like Billy who can really turn a town around. He is one of my favorites for what he is doing in Ruleville. Stop by to see him when you are back home and see what you can do to help.