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September 18, 2006




(Jackson, Mississippi) – Governor Haley Barbour today announced he is setting aside $10 million of social service block grant funds to help hospitals along the Mississippi Gulf Coast recruit and retain health care professionals.


“Reserving these funds for the hospitals directly affected by Hurricane Katrina is imperative for boosting trauma care and other areas of health services that are vital to a strong health care infrastructure for citizens of the Gulf Coast,” Governor Barbour said.


“The availability of this grant money addresses an important set of recommendations brought forth by the Health and Human Services Committee of the Governor’s Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal,” said Chris Anderson, Chief Executive Officer of Singing River Hospital System, who chaired the committee. “The committee members recognized that workforce retention and recruitment would be critical to health care providers in meeting the many medical needs of their communities. Governor Barbour’s commitment to the Gulf Coast’s recovery has been evident, not just in words, but also very much in action.”


The social services block grant funds will be available to the following hospitals: Singing River Hospital System (including Singing River Hospital and Ocean Springs Hospital), Biloxi Regional Medical Center, Memorial Hospital at Gulfport, Hancock Medical Center, Garden Park Medical Center and Gulf Coast Medical Center.


President and Chief Executive Officer of Memorial Hospital at Gulfport Gary Marchand said, “These new monies will help Memorial offset the costs we have added in facing the challenges of retaining our most valuable assets—our employees and our physicians. We very much appreciate the Governor's assistance in protecting Memorial's patient care services.”


“Governor Barbour is acutely aware the Coast is still having significant issues with meeting its healthcare needs post-Katrina. Many of our healthcare providers lost their homes and left the area as a result of the storm,” said William Peaks, CEO of Garden Park Medical Center. “We are extremely appreciative of the Governor’s continued efforts to secure funding to help the medical community rebuild. These funds will be extremely helpful to us in recruiting and retaining qualified medical providers to serve our communities and ensure we are meeting the Coast’s healthcare needs.”


Chief Executive Officer of Biloxi Regional Medical Center Tim Mitchell said, “The news of these monies being available to assist coast hospitals with recruiting physicians and professional staff is great news for everyone. We certainly want to express our appreciation to Governor Barbour for making this happen. The monies will tremendously help the Coast hospitals continue to provide care to the citizens of the communities in which we live as well as make an impact on the re-building efforts of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.”


“These funds will be very beneficial to both Gulf Coast Medical Center and Gulf Oaks Hospital in helping us to provide needed services to our community,” said Brenda Whitwell, Chief Executive Officer of Gulf Coast Medical Center. “We are currently expanding our staffing and services to meet the needs of the community and this funding will be instrumental in helping the hospital move forward. We would like to thank Governor Barbour for his work to support the Gulf Coast Hospitals.”


These SSBG funds are part of the more than $128 million Mississippi received through a Supplemental Appropriation Bill for Katrina relief. The bill was approved by Congress, signed by the President of the United States, and appropriated to the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. When the funds were appropriated to the state, Governor Haley Barbour designated DHS as the state agency responsible to receive and distribute hurricane monies.