Quitman County Hospital Returns

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 8, 2021

Quentin Whitwell, CEO Panola Med

C:662.701.9346

qwhitwell@panolamed.com

www.panolamed.com

Closed Critical Access Hospital in Marks, MS Slated to Reopen

(MARKS, MS) – The Quitman County Hospital closed on October 31, 2016, as the county’s largest employer with 99 people. Without healthcare, despondency has grown with in the unemployed. Current acute healthcare situations have worsened due to the length of time it takes to receive critical medical and healthcare services in neighboring counties, which is at minimum a 30-minute drive.

With the county’s resolve to reopen, a partnership has been created with nearby Panola Medical Center. A path has been cleared for the Quitman Community Hospital to reopen by vote of the Quitman County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday morning. The hospital will have the capacity to provide emergency care as well as beds for acute patients, including those with COVID-19.

Manuel Killebrew, President of the Quitman County Board of Supervisors stated that he is “elated that the board, Delta Medical Foundation and Panola Medical Center in Batesville are forming a partnership to reopen the hospital.” Killebrew went on to say, “This means that 75-100 good paying jobs will return to the county, and it goes without saying, we need a hospital close by to provide medical services for our citizens.”

Panola Medical Center was re-established by its acquisition from a bankrupt estate and has improved its bottom line, grown its services and become a partner with local industrial and government partners. Quentin Whitwell, CEO and Chairman of the Board, made a statement about Panola’s influence and the Quitman re- opening. “Serving our patient populations in the North Delta region is our mission. Providing exceptional care for better health is our driven passion.”

“By reopening this hospital, the loss of jobs in the community will be reversed and the citizens of Marks will have renewed energy to grow the economy in the area,” stated Senator Robert Jackson, who represents the State of Mississippi, District Eleven, which includes Quitman County. “I am pleased to have brought the Panola Med operators to the Board and that this new relationship has been forged.”

“The practical care we give every day needs follow-up and ease of access to specialists that can tend to higher acuity levels. But having a launching point from our own hospital will save lives and create new outcomes for patients,” said Lonnie Moore, a local Nurse Practitioner who also owns the former hospital building, and the president of Delta Medical Foundation.

Quitman County is located in the Mississippi Delta. This is a rural underserved county with the racial makeup of 27.3 % whites, 70.9% blacks and 1.8 % others. It has a median annual household income of $25,383 and a poverty rate of 35.6%, making it one of the poorest counties in the United States. The 2020 Census data shows Quitman County population declined by -17.40%. This county went from 8,223 to 6,792 residents living in this county, the largest percentage of lost population out of the 82 counties located within the State of Mississippi.

Recent data from the National Rural Accountable Care Consortium ranked Quitman County 79th for health outcomes, 79th for health behavior, and 77th for health factors out of the 82 counties in Mississippi. This data also indicates that the county struggles with health issues such as 58% of the adult population dealing with high blood pressure, 45% with high cholesterol, 31% with heart disease, and 17% with diabetes.

In recent years, Quitman County has shown glimmers of promise and resilience. In April 2021, the closed SuperValu reopened as an independently-owned Jeffcoat’s Family Market. In May 2018, the ribbon cutting was held for the opening of the newest Northwest Regional Amtrak stop in Marks. And, due to the county’s rich 1960s civil rights history, ties to four National Historic Native American Mounds, iconic blues artists and country music late great Charley Pride, and a National Wildlife Refuge, Quitman County is becoming a nascent tourism destination.

Having the Quitman Community Hospital back up and running will make a significant difference in the quality of life for its residents, and help change the trajectory of the exodus of the county’s population.

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Quitman County Receives $400K to Restore Historic Courthouse

In the near future the citizens of Quitman County will be able to get onto an elevator to access the second floor of the historic courthouse to attend public meetings and court proceedings. Obtaining this elevator was made possible through the Board of Supervisors’ submission of a proposal and resolution for the renovations of the 110-year-old courthouse building.

With this information, Senator Robert Jackson submitted a Senate Bill to request funds during the 2020 Mississippi Legislature Regular Session for this project. The renovations include exterior repairs and painting; installation of an elevator, and window restoration.

The elevator is crucial to the building to allow citizens with disabilities to access the upper level as the board continues to work to improve the accessibility and bring the courthouse into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The board members are appreciative to Senator Jackson for submitting this proposal to the Senate. Thanks to the Senator’s hard work and efforts, Quitman County was awarded $400,000.00 in bond funds for the project.

The Quitman County Courthouse was constructed in 1911 when the county seat was moved to Marks. Since then, the Courthouse has served the community as a very important building to the County, City of Marks,

and other municipalities. The two-story courthouse was designed by the Chamberlin and Associates Architecture Firm in the Neoclassical style and was designated a Mississippi Landmark in 1990.

The Board has made it a priority to improve the quality of services and the experience of its citizens at the Courthouse. Property improvements to dedicated parking around the courthouse square have recently been completed, and with bond funding the Board of Supervisors will continue to make improvements.

Belinda Stewart Architects (BSA) of Eupora, Mississippi will work with the Board on this project. They specialize in the restoration of historic buildings and have extensive experience with planning and construction. BSA has worked with the Quitman County School District on the restoration of Phase One of the Marks Rosenwald School, which is now complete. In 2019 BSA helped the school district receive additional funds from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History for Phase Two of the Rosenwald Project.

The Board feels that they are a valuable partner in this significant project for the renovation to the Quitman County Historic Courthouse. To stay up-to-date with its progress, visit quitmancountyms.org or the Quitman County MS Facebook page.