Entity continues to be an asset to Bolivar County and area
By Jack criss
The Bolivar Bullet
The Bolivar Medical Center Foundation was formed in 2000 by Bolivar County to manage funds realized from the lease of the formerly county-run hospital. The Foundation’s Mission is to improve the quality of health care provided to the citizens of Bolivar County and to provide instruction to the public on the improvement of personal health, hygiene and safety.
The Foundation is made up of appointees from the Bolivar County Supervisors, Bolivar Medical Center, Delta State University, Chamber of Commerce and the Board at large. The eleven-person board comprising the Foundation members each serve five-year, staggered terms. Board members do not get paid and represent various areas of Bolivar County. The Foundation meets every other month to review grant requests and discuss business and every meeting is open to the public.
To fulfill the organization’s mission, the Foundation disburses funds to worthy organizations which present projects and programs of work which are relevant to the Foundation’s healthcare-driven focus.
Chairman of the Foundation (and Planters Bank President,) Mark Hargett, said the organization’s founding was based on a move made by Bolivar Medical Center in 2000, which was county-owned at the time.
“They decided to lease out the hospital, found a company that would do so for 40 years and, in the process, obtained a good deal of money upfront,” said Hargett. “About $28 million-plus, which was then used by the County to form the Foundation. And, the intent was to grow and protect that money, and still is. The positive thing was that this money could be used more proactively, freely and aggressively to help Bolivar County citizens and we’ve been very successful in our mission.”
Past grant recipients from the Foundation, among many, have included Bolivar County School Districts and a local Boy Scouts of America troop for the purchase of defibrillators, the Cleveland Lion’s Club for vision screening equipment that was used to assist Bolivar County students, Delta Health Center to assist in providing care to the needy, nursing scholarships through Delta State University, Coahoma Community College and Mississippi Delta Community College and general support for the Nursing School at Delta State University.
“Much of the money provided to students is done in the form of interest-free loans,” said Hargett. “A contract is signed by the student with the understanding that he or she has to come back to Bolivar County to work and would repay the loan in the process, usually in four years time. If they chose not to come back here to work, the individual would have to pay the loan back with interest. We’re not doing quite as many of those now, but we still get recommendations to help certain nursing students as well as give money directly to our Delta nursing schools and they then vet the best candidates for the program. The schools then report back directly to us about the progress of the program and the students.”
Hargett said another positive thing the Foundation does is pay Bolivar Medical Center annually for indigent and ambulatory care. “We also helped Delta State through the pandemic with their setting up vaccination sites to pay the professionals who ran them,” said Hargett. “Plus, we were able to provide financial ‘gifts’ in the total amount of $700,000 to LPNs and RNs here at Bolivar Medical Center, over 100 of them, to boost their morale during this pandemic and keep them here, as well.
“This Foundation has really grown and been successful in its mission while also growing the investment side of its portfolio,” added Hargett. “We have an excellent board consisting of a diverse group of people with various viewpoints and expertise that they bring to the table. Yet we always come together in ways to help Bolivar County and I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish over the years.”
Current board members serving, along with Hargett, are: Georgene Clark, Chris Collins, Kevin Cox, Norma R. Evans, Adolph Hilliard, Barbara McKnight, Dr. Derek Miles, Jamie Rutledge, Ned Tolliver and Dr. Bennie Wright.
For more information on the Bolivar Medical Center Foundation, its mission and accomplishments, go to www. bolivarmedicalcenterfoundation.com