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Davis praises Demopolis hospital and CEO

DEMOPOLIS-Congressman Artur Davis was in Demopolis Friday as part of a Black Belt tour of medical facilities. His third stop of the day was Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital where he praised the hospital and CEO Mike Marshall heavily.

Davis said the hospital and city were a great example of what was right in the Black Belt.

“If you go through the Black Belt and had to find one major success story it would be Demopolis and Marengo County,” Davis said. “I think people get along better here than any other place in the Black Belt. This community has figured out how to get people from different economic classes and different races to think of themselves as part of one community structure.”

Davis said a lot of the credit begins at the top. He said past and current leadership has been key in moving the area forward.

“This city has always been blessed to have a wonderful mayor,” Davis said. “The current mayor, Cecil Williamson, has been a wonderful mayor. She is a wonderful person and I am sure she is going to do a great job.”

As for the hospital, Davis said he was extremely impressed. He said strong leadership at the hospital was also responsible for its success.

“This hospital in particular is I think the best hospital in the Black Belt,” Davis said. “It has one of the best CEO’s in the state.”

Davis reflected on his first meeting with Marshall. He said through the years the two have become very familiar with each other and looked forward to many more years.

“I remember meeting Mike right after he came,” Davis said. “Right after he moved into this job I sat down with him and met with him and I have had the honor or working with him on several other things. We are both on the Black Belt Action Commission together.”

Whitfield Hospital is one of the best-known staples of Demopolis. Davis said he hoped to keep Marshall in place and continue to move forward.

“So many people will tell you this hospital is a shining star in this community,” Davis said. “Our hope is that we can keep him here and keep him in this community. I think we have a lot to learn from him.”

Marshall passed the credit to the employees of the hospital. He said it took everyone working together for a common goal and that is what they have.

“We have a lot of faces around here that deserve all the credit,” Marshall said. “We all get along and we have a very healthy relationship between administration, staff and medical staff. That is probably the root of our success.”

Marshall said a lot of the groundwork was laid before he arrived in Demopolis.

“Me predecessor did a fantastic job of positioning this hospital financially,” Marshall said. “We have been able to spring board off that and accomplish what we have accomplished. He and our management team deserve a lot of credit for that.”

When the call to come to Demopolis came, Marshall said it was not a tough decision. He said he was eager to come and has not been disappointed.

“Demopolis is indeed a wonderful place to live and work,” Marshall said. “We have a wonderful staff here and they do a fantastic job. We have great support from the community itself.”

Currently, the hospital has an occupancy 99 beds and usually runs 44 percent occupancy. This number is up five percent from 2003. The hospitals surgical volume is up 66 percent from 2003 and their infection rate is down by half.

Marshall said this proves the hospital is improving in every aspect.

“We are moving things business wise in the right direction,” Marshall said. “But our quality is also improving. Our satisfaction scores have gone from 76 percent two years ago to 92 percent today so we are proud of that.”

One of the hospitals greatest assets has been word of mouth. Marshall said people are beginning to take notice of the improvements and are less likely to depend on Meridian or Tuscaloosa for health care.

“I think our reputation has gotten better,” Marshall said. “The confidence level in our hospital in the community has gotten better and I think that is attributed to our quality improving.”

He added some of the reasons for improvement have been as simple as open communication.

“One of the most important things we can do is communicate,” Marshall said. “If information stays in my office it is no good. We are all involved in the information so that we can focus on things we need to focus on.”

Overall, Marshall said his time at Whitfield has been well worth the move from Atlanta.

“We have had a wonderful two years,” Marshall said. “It has been very rewarding to me personally to be here.”