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After nearly 10 years, hospital ED returns to Miss. county

Chickasaw County’s only emergency department closed in 2014

By Caleb McCluskey
Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal

TUPELO, Miss. — Thursday marked the grand reopening of Chickasaw County’s only emergency room after nearly a decade without emergency care.

Progressive Health of Houston, formerly known as Trace Regional Medical Center, reopened its doors Thursday afternoon under new management by the Oxford-based healthcare company Progressive Health Group, bringing emergency services back to the county.

Chickasaw County is home to 16,812 Mississippians.

“Our primary objective was to restore emergency services to Houston and the neighboring communities,” Progressive Health Group CEO Quentin Whitwell said in a written statement. “We’re thrilled to announce that we have successfully reopened the ER and can now offer these crucial services to the community.”

Trace Regional Hospital closed its 24-hour emergency room in 2014, leaving residents with little choice but to drive to either Baptist Memorial Hospital in Calhoun County or Monroe Regional Hospital in Monroe County for emergency care. Both are nearly half an hour away from Houston, the seat of Chickasaw County.

Houston Mayor Stacey Parker said he was extremely proud that his town will again be with emergency services, adding that Houston was strong through its time without.

“Something has to end to begin,” he said. “God has allowed this community to survive without a fully operating hospital and an ER. He has taught us patience, built our stamina to withstand and to believe and trust in new owners to take care of us. … On behalf of the great city of Houston and the rest of the community, we thank each and everyone who had a finger or thought in making this transaction happen.

Open seven days a week, the hospital, outside of 24-hour emergency services, will also include outpatient services such as radiology, intensive outpatient programs and cardio-pulmonary services.

“It is a big deal for the city of Houston and Chickasaw County,” Progressive Health of Houston Hospital Manager Brad Huffman said. “We couldn’t be happier or more excited.

The emergency room houses five examination rooms. Huffman estimated the hospital will see about 15 patients per day for emergency service and, if needed, patients can be transported to larger systems by ambulance or helicopter.

Huffman said the change to include emergency services excludes inpatient services, meaning patients cannot be admitted for extended stays

Jennifer Higginbotham has worked at the hospital in Houston for 27 years, working through the transition. She said she is excited the system can reopen for emergency services.

“As employees and professionals, it is so exciting to be able to take care of our people at home,” she said. “We are really excited to be able to continue serving our community.”

Progressive Health Group, which also owns the Panola Medical Center, Quitman Community Hospital and other healthcare facilities around the state, purchased the hospital for $8 million in November 2023, promising then to reopen emergency services.

“We welcome Progressive Health. It is one thing to just exchange keys and another thing to reopen. I am so encouraged by all the heartfelt comments,” Chickasaw Development Foundation Executive Director Patsy Gregory said. “This is a very progressive step in the right direction.”

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