BUSINESS: Healthcare breakfast examines strength of local medical services | Free sharing

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. — With 240 hospital beds, 1,300 employees, 26 specialties and annual sales of $552 million, Marshall Medical Centers is a key player in local economic development. Excellent healthcare and school systems are critically important to new businesses looking for thriving communities in which to locate.

“The quality of health care for a community of this size is unique,” said Chris Rush, president of Marshall Medical Centers, keynote speaker at the Lake Guntersville Chamber of Commerce’s annual health care breakfast.

Rush provided an overview of the county-owned local medical system, which is part of the Huntsville Hospital Network. Hospitals across the country are still recovering from the pandemic, which has forced them to drastically restrict visits and, at times, patient services such as elective hospital surgeries. Twenty percent of hospital staff left during that time, he said, while nurses who remained at work had to take on the extra workload. This created pressure on the entire nursing profession.

“We are still dealing with this issue,” Rush said.

Rush came to Marshall Medical six months ago with a background in hospital administration and finance — including serving as an administrator at Rush Foundation Hospital in Meridian, Mississippi — a hospital founded by his great-grandfather. He holds a master’s degree in business administration. He was previously Chief Operations and Practice Management for more than 200 medical practices across 30 sites for Huntsville Hospital Health System.

In introducing Rush, Roy Rollings, chairman of the Marshall County Healthcare Authority, said the lifeblood of a healthcare system is its doctors and its ability to manage its finances. He credited Rush with having the skills to work with both.

The future of local health

One of Marshall Medical’s main goals going forward is to stabilize and grow its workforce, Rush said. A move towards this effort is a new Workforce Development Coordinator recently added to the hospital staff. Additional efforts include:

•Set up nursing apprenticeships where new nurses will be trained, paid during training, and then hired as employees

• Recruit top-notch physicians and expand service lines including cardiology, pulmonology, critical care and others

• Closer integration with specialists and care teams in Huntsville and UAB

• Improved access to Marshall North and South to make it easier for patients to perform tasks such as check-in, check-in and bill payment

• A major construction project in Boaz which should be completed next year increases the number of beds for intensive care, hospitalization and surgery

“Our goal is to provide the right care at the right time in the right setting,” Rush said.

Efforts to recruit new physicians have been successful with the addition of an orthopedist, urologist, neurologist, additional hospitalist, pediatrician, radiologist and third oncologist at Marshall Cancer Care Center.

Emergency physician Dr. Tyler Hughes was recently named to the position of vice president of medical affairs, where he will serve as the senior executive physician of Marshall Medical Centers.

“He will help make this hospital system the best it can be for the region,” Rush said.

In closing, Rush emphasized that the team at Marshall Medical is passionate about the mission of serving the community and is committed to providing modern, excellent quality services, a safe environment and easy access in a welcoming and friendly environment. .

“It’s important for everyone to feel like they’re not just a number.”