OCH Regional Medical Center, UMMC announce affiliationPublished on Tuesday, June 26, 2018By: Mary Kathryn Kight, OCH director of public relations and Ruth Cummins, UMMC associate director for media relationsA new affiliation between Oktibbeha County Hospital Regional Medical Center in Starkville and the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson will strengthen and expand health care services in Starkville and the Golden Triangle.The affiliation, announced June 26, brings the medical education, research and advanced health care offerings of Mississippi’s only academic medical center to OCH, a 96-bed, progressive rural hospital with a medical staff of more than 70 representing 20 medical specialties.Founded in 1973, OCH Regional Medical Center is a 96-bed, county-owned progressive rural hospital serving Oktibbeha County and the surrounding six counties.“Since January, our board, medical staff and administrative team have worked together on this affiliation process,” said Richard Hilton, outgoing OCH administrator and CEO. “Our goal was to find the best fit for not only our hospital and employees, but also for our patients and this community, and we feel that we’ve found that with UMMC at this time.”Expanded access to state-of-the-art care will enable more area residents to stay home for treatment, said Kevin Cook, chief executive officer of the UMMC Health System. “Our vision for the affiliation is to ensure OCH is the center of a vibrant and viable medical community for many years to come,” Cook said.OCH, with more than 600 employees, is the first facility in northeast Mississippi to offer digital mammography. Its services include the daVinci SI Robot advanced surgical system. Offerings also include a free-standing fitness facility, cardiac rehabilitation, diabetes management, and a pulmonary wellness rehabilitation department providing physical, occupational and speech therapy.OCH operates 10 clinics: a family medical clinic in Ackerman and nine clinics in Starkville offering services including breast health and imaging, lung and sleep care, pain management, sleep medicine, general surgery, orthopedics, wound healing and hyperbaric care, and family medicine.The University of Mississippi Medical Center, the state's only academic medical center, has six hospitals, including University Hospital in Jackson.The working relationship allows OCH to enhance its strong medical staff, expand its health care services, and improve access to treatment through UMMC’s medical and educational outreach. It allows UMMC to improve and expand the quality of its educational training programs and its research contributions.OCH’s Board of Trustees chose UMMC after the Medical Center and two other hospital systems submitted proposals for affiliation earlier this year.“I’ve been following this process and know that the trustees have carefully considered what each system has to offer, and I’m very supportive of the decision they’ve made,” said OCH administrator and CEO Jim Jackson, announced as OCH’s new leader on June 25. “I respect UMMC, and we look forward to working with them in this mutually beneficial relationship as we continue to improve patient care in our community.”“Now that Mr. Jackson has come on board, he will be able to take this decision and implement what has been put together,” Hilton said.The affiliation will give UMMC the opportunity to expand educational training programs for Mississippi practitioners by placing medical residents and fellows at OCH, where they will deliver patient care in concert with the hospital’s medical staff.“Our new affiliation with OCH is an excellent opportunity for our residents and faculty physicians to bring the resources of the state’s only academic medical center to the Golden Triangle,” said Dr. Charles O’Mara, associate vice chancellor for clinical affairs and professor of vascular surgery. UMMC also enjoys affiliations with Anderson Hospital in Meridian, Memorial Hospital in Gulfport, North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo and Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.