TRMC’s Ventress, Grimes address Chamber

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Troy Regional Medical Center workers are striving to make the hospital the number one source of health care in Pike County.

That was the message TRMC’s Jennifer Ventress and Teresa Grimes worked to convey to a room full of Pike County Chamber of Commerce members Tuesday at the Breakfast Before Business event.

Ventress, chief nursing officer, along with CEO Grimes, acknowledged the hospital in Troy has seen its share of hardships.

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Beginning her story with TRMC’s trouble in 2007, Ventress shared just how far the hospital has come since the doctor’s group’s efforts to turn it around.

“The physicians tried diligently to make it work. They put their hearts and souls in it and their personal money in it,” Ventress said. “In late December of this year, the physicians went to the mayor and said, ‘We have done everything we can do.’”

While the group financially couldn’t complete the TRMC turn around, she said it did make great progress in every other aspect of hospital care.

Progress, she said, has only continued since the city of Troy officially assumed operations the start of this year.

“We have never had any quality issues. Most have been financial,” she said.

Some of those advancements just since the city assumed operations have been the addition of new MRI services, digital mammogram tests and 4D ultra sound capabilities.

Ventress said another addition is that of an orthopedic surgeon in the recruitment of Lester Littell.

“He does a hip replacement that only one of three in the state do,” she said.

And, Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford attested to the importance of that surgery. One who has had hip replacement surgery and underwent months of recovery himself, Lunsford said he wished Littell could have been in Troy 20 years ago.

“He did surgery on a grandmother on Tuesday, and Sunday she walked into church without a walker,” Lunsford said.

Ventress said having a local hospital in case of late-night emergencies is key. But, she said it depends on services that patients using it for other services.

“Emergency care costs insurance companies the most, costs us the most, costs you the most,” she said. “Gallbladder, MRI, colonoscopy, lab tests — those are the processes that really provide for hospitals.”

And, she encouraged those gathered to spread the word about the importance of getting care locally.

“We’ll be the first to tell you it’s time to go to Montgomery or Birmingham if we can’t give the care you need here,” Ventress said. “People need to choose us first.”

Grimes, who came to TRMC as interim CEO and now has been hired officially at CEO, discussed the hospital’s goals under its strategic plan.

She began with a question for the crowd: “What keeps your business from being great?”

Some answered with things like customer service, but the answer Grimes had was much more simple: “good.”

“It’s good that keeps us from becoming great,” Grimes said, referring to the book “Good to Great” by Jim Collins.

And, Grimes said the staff at TRMC is committed to becoming great.

Grimes said the efforts aren’t ones that will be made overnight, but the hospital is well on its way to making its goals reality.

“It is a process. Change is gradual,” Grimes said. “There’s not one simple thing you can do.”