Ad Spot

Sunday, Oct. 21, 2001

By Staff
Emergency patient thankful for treatment at Riley Memorial
To the Editor:
The young EMT in the EMS vehicle asked me on the way to the hospital if I had a hospital preference. I told him that I was an overnight guest in Meridian and didn't know anything about the local hospitals. I had broken my hip in a fall in the motel shower the morning of September 22. He told me that Riley Memorial Hospital was "on rotation this weekend" and indicated that it was a "good" hospital.
I wish I would have had the presence of mind to note his and the other EMTs' names who were so helpful. I would drop him a line and tell him that Riley is an excellent hospital and the employees could not have been better.
Dr. Richardson and his emergency room staff made me comfortable and sent me off for X-rays that confirmed a broken hip. Dr. Durgin, an obviously gifted surgeon with a knack for explanations in layman's terms, and his OR team hustled me off to surgery. I don't know her name, but the nurse who covered me in the OR with a heated blanket deserves a huge hug.
The sensation was all but indescribable and only surpassed by the feeling when I awoke in recovery warm as a bug in a rug and no pain. I can't thank the wonderful staff enough for their kind assistance and care. I am particularly grateful for visits by therapists Todd Scott and Ron Nolan who stopped in while I was on the 5th floor and suggested exercises that immediately helped relieve the pain in the muscles of my right leg.
The Housekeeping staff was prompt, courteous, and efficient every day. In addition, student nurses Sherry Clark and Laura Varnado were simply great. They already exhibit the excellent work ethic of the permanent staff members.
The rehab staff was super. Tim Sexton, my primary physical therapist, even stopped in to check on me on his day off the day before I was discharged. I'm glad Tim, a soft-spoken gentle giant, passed up a promising football career in order to take up physical therapy and I hope he has a long, healthy, and prosperous career.
I never heard a single complaint from an employee or a cross word between employees during my entire visit. I requested extra iced tea with lemon during lunch one day. My supper showed up that afternoon with a slice of lemon in the tea. The nurses even popped in for a visit and chat in the wee hours if I called and they always offered juice and asked if there was anything else they could get for me.
How did I end up in such a great hospital with such dedicated personnel? I asked myself that question often during my stay and the answer seems to be, I found a little bit of heaven in Riley Memorial Hospital in Meridian, Mississippi. You made Janice and me feel like family. It just doesn't get any better than that!
We love you.
B. J. (Bev) Gleaton Jr.
Janice L. Gleaton
Mount Pleasant, S.C.
Employee layoffs at Riley Memorial
To the Editor:
How ironic are the words of one of three hospital administrators that has stepped down from administrative leadership at Riley Memorial Hospital, over the short three years, since the acquisition of the hospital by HMA, Health Management Association, headquartered in Naples, Fla.
On Friday, Oct. 12, approximately 30-40 employees were laid off from what was once deemed as a hospital facility that was founded on the premise of compassion and the excellent delivery of patient care services. Those elements of compassion and dedication to patient care have taken a nosedive since HMA acquired Riley Hospital.
A lot has changed since the 1998 acquisition of Riley Memorial Hospital by HMA. The hospital has been downsized from a 180-acute care medical complex to an 80 bed employee morale latent facility. A revolving door of hospital administrators has pierced employee morale to the core.
The icing on the cake was evidenced on that Friday when trained, experienced and dedicated caregivers, many of whom had given more than 20 years of service and loyalty to Riley Memorial Hospital, were given pink slips with nothing more than a two-week severance pay package from HMA. Two weeks of severance pay? What a travesty to those caregivers that had given untiring years of dedicated service to patient healthcare in East Central Mississippi and West Central Alabama.
One of the employees who was laid off is my mother, Betty Roberts, RN, CDE. She recently celebrated 25 years of dedicated leadership, loyalty and service to Riley Memorial Hospital. My mother, like so many other caregivers at Riley's, embraced the founding mission set forth by the late Dr. Franklin Gail Riley. That mission has dramatically changed and I can guarantee you that Dr. Riley would not approve of the state of management affairs at Riley Memorial Hospital today.
In the wake of the layoffs, WTOK-TV Newscenter 11 reported that hospital administration denied that any of the nursing layoffs were tied to patient care. What a sad commentary on the state of hospital management affairs and the misguided perception that somehow the nursing layoffs would not impact the efficient delivery of patient care services.
As noted from their Web site,, HMA outlines several fundamental objectives as to how it seeks to operate its hospitals. Their fundamental objectives include being an exceptional employer, a good corporate citizen, a growing and profitable organization, and an organization which demonstrates the highest ethical standards.
I would challenge HMA to revisit these objectives in light of the recent nursing layoffs. Facilitating nursing layoffs is a far cry from upholding good corporate citizenship in conducting business in a manner which contributes to the economic viability of the community. Furthermore, providing a management style that fosters open communication and seeks to attract and retain the highest caliber of employees has been severely compromised.
In closing, I have one suggestion for HMA: change the name of Riley Memorial Hospital to HMA because what you claim to represent in the name of Riley Memorial Hospital is a long shot from what the founders of this great medical institution and the citizens of East Central Mississippi and West Central Alabama have long come to expect when they heard the name Riley Memorial Hospital. The loyal and dedicated employees of this great hospital deserve much better treatment.
Ralph David Roberts III