Changes come to Lawrence Co. Hospital

Published 5:00 am Monday, October 22, 2001

MONTICELLO — Lawrence County Hospital carries the same name andsame staff as it had in September and remains the same in manyother ways, but it has undergone some major changes in October.

Southwest Regional Medical Center assumed operational control ofthe hospital this month and selected Semmes Ross to replace thelate Bill Nelson as hospital administrator. Ross started at thehospital Sept. 4 unofficially to observe and became the officialadministrator Oct. 1 when Southwest Regional took operationalcontrol. The official grand opening was held Thursday.

“It’s still Lawrence County Hospital,” Ross said. “If someonewalked through the door who hadn’t been here in two years, theywouldn’t know the difference. You couldn’t ask for finer people (onthe staff). I can’t say enough about them.”

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Ross, a veteran administrator from Franklin County, said mostaspects of the hospital will remain the same, but county residentscan look for improvements in the services provided in the nearfuture.

One of the benefits of being associated with a larger hospital,Ross said, is the availability of consultants and specialists invarious administrative and business fields. He can utilize thesespecialists in streamlining hospital operations.

This association also benefits the medical services the hospitalcan provide, he said. Current plans call for medical specialists tovisit the hospital from Southwest Regional every two weeks for “dayclinics.”

“I think it’ll happen soon, within the next 90 days,” Ross said.”The doctors are very excited about this.”

The other changes being made at the hospital are administrativeand customers won’t notice them, he said, such as the change inbecoming a “critical access” hospital. Critical access hospitalsare provided a higher reimbursement of Medicare. It was designed byCongress as a way to keep rural hospitals viable.

One of the reasons Southwest Regional was granted control of thehospital was because Lawrence County Hospital had suffered severefinancial woes in the last few years and was in jeopardy ofcollapse. County and city officials moved quickly to find a way tosave it and decided on a lease agreement with SouthwestRegional.

Ross, a Jackson native, moved to Lawrence County Hospital afterbeing Franklin County Hospital administrator for the past 10 years.In his 20 years in Franklin County, he has also served as a countyadministrator and in the state auditor’s office.

He said he made the move to Lawrence County because it is alarger hospital and the challenge of taking it into a criticalaccess appealed to him.

“This hospital is going to go critical access, so it is thechance to be with a new type of hospital,” Ross said. “All of thesmall hospitals are basically run the same way. I mostly concernmyself with day-to-day operations.”

Ross and his wife Winnie have three children, Winifred, a schoolteacher; Allan, who works for CellularSouth; and Amy, a sophomoreat Franklin County High School. The family intends to keep livingin Franklin County.

The new administrator enjoys hunting, fishing and golf in hisleisure time.