Eldridge named CEO of ERMC

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2000

Features Editor

If enthusiasm is contagious, then Edge Regional Medical Center just might bubble right off its foundation.


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"Rusty" Eldridge has taken over the helm of the hospital as chief executive officer and he makes no attempt to hide his enthusiasm for the job or for being a part of the Pike County community.

He readily admits he is a people person and that he has no intention of spending every hour of his day behind a desk and closed doors.

"I’m going to be out on the floor, mixing with the doctors and nurses and other hospital staff members," he said. "I’m going to visit regularly with patients and their families. I want to find out from them if we are as good as I think we are."

Eldridge said the reputation of ERMC is outstanding among the 54 hospitals that make up Community Health Systems, Inc.

He came to Edge from the corporate office in Brookwood, Tenn. where he served as assistant vice president of operations with operational responsibility for 16 hospitals throughout the Southeast, including ERMC.

Through his familiarity with ERMC, he knew the hospital has committed and dedicated physicians, nurses and staff. He just didn’t realize until he took over as CEO, the degree of that commitment and dedication.

"When talking to members of the staff, I have been amazed at their number of years of service," Eldridge said. "Not only do they know the number of years, they know the exact date they started here. I am going to get a total of the number of years our staff has served this hospital. I think the number will be phenomenal."

Because, the ERMC is made up of "home folks," their commitment to service is very personal, Eldridge said.

"When a patient comes to Edge, chances are they are going to know many of the people who work here because they are neighbors and friends," he said. "Those are the people who will care for them and our employees have demonstrated a strong, honored tradition of caring. That ‘tradition of caring’ is our foundation for excellence in the future."

Eldridge said his immediate plans for the hospital include imaging and emergency room expansion,

targeted physician recruitment to bring new partners into growing practices, including urology, cardiology and OB/GYN and selling the people of Pike and surrounding counties on ERMC as a hospital where patients get the best possible care by people who care the most.

Eldridge met with the ERMC volunteers Wednesday and found them to be a "fabulous group."

"I want to know everybody in the hospital by name and I want them to know me," he said. "I got to know many of our volunteers. They are vital to this hospital and I want them to know they are appreciated. I’m looking forward to meeting the people of our community. I couldn’t be more excited about being here at Edge and in Pike County. Coming here is like coming home."

Eldridge is originally

from Natchez, Miss. and graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi. He has 20 years of progressive healthcare operations experience, including 10 years with investor-owned companies, including five years with Health Management Associates and the last three plus years with Community Health Systems.

His wife Mary Ellen is from Hattiesburg. They are the proud parents of two sons, Alan, 20, and Adam, 19, and a daughter, Mallory, 16.

"Our sons are in college in Tennessee, but we are hopeful they will transfer to Troy State," Eldridge said. "Mallory will be a junior at Charles Henderson High School in the fall."

As for what he enjoys "after hours," Eldridge said another venture out on the floor of Edge will certainly be part of what he does after hours.

Other than being a part of the Edge family, Eldridge does like to "duff" around the golf course, "the walking does me good," but he mainly enjoys just being with family and all the new friends he hopes to make in his new hometown.