Delta Health System has announced a change in leadership at the Greenville-based hospital group that also manages Delta Health Northwest Regional hospital in Clarksdale and Highland Hills hospital in Senatobia.

Delta Board of Trustees Chairman Sam Newsom announced the appointment of Iris Yeldell Stacker as Interim Chief Executive Officer of Delta Health System (DHS), who will oversee the full operations for all hospitals and clinics under the Delta Health System umbrella.

Stacker replaces Scott Christensen, who will step down at the end of the month.

Stacker, who has served as Vice President and System Compliance Officer for Delta Health System, has had a 40-plus year career in health care and administration including time at Kings Daughters Hospital in Greenville, Catahoula Parish Hospital in Jonesville, La. and the former South Washington County Hospital in Hollandale. Her various responsibilities have included management of compliance, patient services, plant operations, health information management, information services, case management, materials management, food and nutrition, and environmental services.

“There is no one more experienced and qualified to run a hospital system than Iris Stacker,” said Newsom. “Our Board of Trustees unanimously agreed that she is the best person for the top position and we have every confidence that she will continue to provide the strategic leadership that we have been accustomed to under Scott’s tenure. Iris has our full support.”

Stacker is a graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Allied Health Professionals with a Bachelor of Science in health information management. She also holds the certification of Registered Health Information Administrator. She is a graduate of Leadership of Washington County. Iris has also served as a Clinical Instructor for the University Medical Center School of Allied Health Professionals.

She is a Past President of the Greenville Rotary of Club and has served as an Assistant Governor.

She has also served as Past President of the Greenville Community Red Cross and Greater Greenville Housing and Revitalization Association, Inc. Iris is a lifetime member of the National Junior Auxiliary, as well as former board of directors with The United Way of Washington County and Good Samaritan Clinic. Stacker is a native of Nashville, Tenn., and resides in Greenville. She is also an active member of Calvary Presbyterian Church where she serves as an Elder.

“I thank the Board of Trustees for their confidence in me and understand fully the responsibility we have as a community to keep our hospital system thriving,” said Stacker. “Knowing that I have their support and working with a proven team of quality clinicians and hospital staff will make this transition a smooth and successful one. I look forward to continuing the positive direction that my predecessor set.”

Christensen took over the helm of the Greenville hospital when it was a single entity and leaves it as a group of community hospitals in the Delta and beyond.

The hospital has grown to include locations in Clarksdale and Senatobia as well as clinics in Arcola. Christensen also oversaw the recent rebranding of the hospital as Delta Health System.

Clarksdale Hospital

How the change in leadership might affect healthcare in Clarksdale is not clear.

DHS announced in February 2021 that it was taking over management of the former Clarksdale hospital which became Northwest Mississippi Regional Hospital. It was DHS’s first hospital expansion under the newly named Delta Health System.

At that time DHS said its goal was to establish and strengthen physician relationships, enhance emergency room services, provide additional primary care with select specialties and increase awareness to the county and surrounding areas concerning care and services offered at the new hospital.

Janet Benzing was named the new administrator at Delta Health Northwest Regional in March 2021.

Delta Health System had been working with the Coahoma County Board of Supervisors about taking over management of the hospital facility from Community Health Services for some time. 

CHS took over management of Northwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center from Curae in May 2019. Curae declared bankruptcy in August 2018 with hospitals in Clarksdale, Amory and Batesville directly affected. The Amory hospital was sold to North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo and the Batesville hospital was sold to a group of local investors.

The Coahoma County Board of Supervisors issued a statement in November 2018 saying they planned “to continue operations at Northwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center with the ultimate goal of identifying a new buyer for the hospital.”  

Coahoma County signed a deal to transfer Northwest Regional Medical Center from Community Health System to Delta Health System, in mid-January.

Supervisors signed a letter of intent to shift its lease from Community Health System (CHS) to Delta Health Systems (DHS) out of Greenville, modify tax payments and get assurances on physical plant changes to the hospital.

The deal saw the remaining 14-years on the lease with CHS honored, taxes that would be paid by the hospital over those 14-years guaranteed and maintenance and approximately $2.3 million in improvements needed at the hospital satisfied.

Dollar amounts for the three key points of concern to the county are: a lease that generates approximately $500,000 a year; $900,000 in county, city and school taxes paid annually by CHS; and what are more than $2 million in renovation, improvements or demolition needed at NMRMC.

Lease payments to the county are deposited into a Hospital Trust Fund designated for emergencies related to providing healthcare in the community. The fund currently has about $25 million in the account. The county can borrow from that fund and took $2 million from that account in 2020 to leverage work on the Jonestown bypass, county fire station and complete the new Justice Center and Coahoma County Jail.

DHS is a not-for-profit corporation owned by Washington County and as such does not pay property taxes. Coahoma County’s concern with no local representation on the DHS Board of Directors has been discussed.

Healthcare Numbers

Supervisors hired Trilogy Healthcare Solution of Flowood as a consultant in 2019 to help them assess needs at the Clarksdale hospital and to study possible solutions to problems faced by the hospital.

Trilogy’s report to supervisors in October 2019 said the current 181-bed hospital in Clarksdale was built in 1952 and much of the infrastructure at the sprawling facility is in need of repair. The report also suggested the hospital footprint be reduced to about 50 beds.

The report said the hospital sees roughly 24,000 people annually through its emergency room, which acts as “the front door” for the hospital.

Northwest Regional is currently a Level 4 Trauma Center meaning they can handle most emergencies and can perform surgery to stabilize patients before sending them to a Level 5 Trauma Center – the medical professions highest level of emergency care.

Northwest Regional is also a primary stroke center and routinely offers a better outcome for patients who have had a stroke. The hospital is also an accredited chest pain center.

The hospital has a Labor and Delivery Suite, which includes two labor/delivery rooms, five regular labor rooms, two delivery rooms and a 23-bassinet newborn and intensive care nursery. Northwest Regional saw over 700 births in 2020 or about two a day.

One of the main concerns in negotiations had been staffing and employee numbers at the Clarksdale hospital.

 

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