One of the biggest additions to Kemper County is its new hospital. Almost twenty years ago the county's lone hospital closed. That all changed March 9, 2011, when the doors to the John C. Stennis Memorial Hospital opened. Since then, county officials say the facility has been having a major impact on the community.
Guy Darnell is one resident praising the hospital. The 89-year-old from the Moscow Community is just one of many Kemper County residents now benefiting from the facility.
Since losing much of his foot in a tractor accident, Darnell has received physical therapy at the hospital.
'When he first got here just walking was difficult for him,' said physical therapist, Gabe Snow.
Darnell says after two months of being hospitalized far from home in Jackson, he underwent 2.5 weeks of physical therapy here.
'I don't know how good the other rehabs are, but this is a good one!' said Darnell.
The 25-bed facility, which bears the name of Kemper County native and longtime U.S. senator offers a wide range of inpatient and outpatient services.
'We're a 25-bed critical access hospital with about 80 employees across various disciplines,' said JCSMH Administrator, Jason Payne.
Payne says more than half of those employees are from Kemper County or neighboring areas.
Dr. Juantina Johnson is one of the employees who moved back to work at the facility.
'When I graduated from high school 20 years ago, I always promised myself I would come back and one of the things I wanted to do was try to open a hospital,' said Johnson.
With the community in mind, hospital officials say they are partnering with crews from the nearby coal plant site.
'We're doing a deal with the coal mine where we cover their worker's comp. With the plant they have over 4,000 workers now and we are the closest ER facility and clinic and so if anything happens out there we can cover them,' said Dr. William Bracken.
One highlight at the hospital is its helipad. Since opening, hospital officials say about a half dozen individuals have been flown from there to hospitals in Meridian, Jackson or Birmingham. This equals about a half dozen people who likely would not have been alive if the hospital in DeKalb was not open.
Other services include a therapy program for senior citizens who are battling depression and anxiety, and a cafeteria that's attracting the masses. With the services that it provides and the very positive response so far, hospital officials are optimistic about the future.
'Things are only going up. It's great,' said Payne.
The John C. Stennis Memorial Hospital has 45,000 square feet. About 15 patients are treated in the emergency room daily. On average there are between 8 and 15 patients hospitalized at the facility at any given time.