Rural Healthcare Victory


  Although rural healthcare in Tennessee has been the hardest hit in the entire country, with fourteen hospital closures in the last decade, Baptist Tipton is growing! “Our volumes are increasing, we are seeing more patients than we have in recent years, we are adding new doctors, new services, we are doing what a lot of other small hospitals aren’t doing right now, and we plan on continuing that,” Parker Harris, CEO of Baptist Tipton, told us. 

  Built in 1964 by Tipton County, the hospital joined Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation in 1981, making it the first hospital in the Baptist system outside Memphis. Experienced medical staff provides high-quality care in the 100-bed facility. Staff physicians practice internal medicine, emergency medicine, oncology, pediatrics, pathology, neurology, obstetrics/gynecology, radiology, and nephrology. Many are located in the two medical office buildings adjacent to the hospital. Baptist Tipton has added an orthopedic doctor and is looking to add a cardiologist in the near future. They also have always had one of the largest OR suites in the area. 


   “We have been looking for ways to be able to keep our patients here,” Jackie Barton, Chief Nursing Officer, explained, “We want to be able to let them be close to their families, friends… it makes the outcomes so much better for the patients!” In doing so, Baptist Tipton has been able to make several adjustments to the services they offer to the inpatient care, along with the ER. “If we have to send someone out, we can actually get someone via The Hospital Wing to the cath lab in Memphis faster than someone in a Memphis area hospital could get there.” Madalyn Mason, Nurse Manager for Critical Services, explained, “With the help of The Hospital Wing, after we get someone stabilized, we can get them to the cath lab within minutes, and every second counts in those cases.” 

  Radiology is another department that has gotten some new equipment. The hospital has everything from x-ray to MRI, and they are adding a new mammography unit, “We want to be able to offer just about any test, at the same level, that Memphis has to offer,” Harris continued, “we have radiologists on staff, and with the network, we can have results quickly!”

  Baptist Tipton will be adding an in-hospital dialysis service for patients who need those services. “That was a reason that we had to transfer patients out of the hospital, we couldn’t deal with those needs,” Barton added, “we want to have the best outcome for our patients, and to be able to offer those services, keeping them here in their community is the best thing that could happen!” The hospital is not starting a dialysis service, they are only offering this to the patients who are in hospital and need the service. 


  Another great service that the hospital is adding is a ‘telehealth’ nurse that stays with a patient in the ICU at all times. While nurses and doctors are always available, it gives patients peace of mind to know that they have an immediate response at their fingertips. “This gives us access to the same level of care that the big hospitals have at all times in the ER and in the ICU.” Mason continued, “It is such an improvement, and allows us to give a better level of care!”

  While the hospital has the capacity to be a 100 bed hospital in case of an emergency, with an ER that is capable of more than 50 patients, it’s not normally that full. Patients get in and out quickly, with a rapid intake service that the ER maintains. Today’s ER wait is a mere 16 minutes, according to their website, which you can check before you go. It’s in the upper right-hand corner, and tells you the current ER wait time. 


  Babies are born every day at the hospital, a tiny baby girl, complete with a pink hat and bow, was in the nursery during our tour. “Babies aren’t in the nursery as much as they used to be,” Barton supplied, “Most of the time they are in the room with their mother, so much nicer than it used to be!” The hospital can have four in Labor & Delivery at any given time, and there are eight large rooms for mothers and babies on the floor. Baptist Tipton has made great strides in their rooms as well, and as for patient satisfaction, it couldn’t be better!

  Along with patient satisfaction is patient safety. Baptist Tipton is rated by QUEST, which is one of the largest health system improvement collaboratives in the nation. Baptist Tipton’s overall ranking at last reporting among full participants (221 hospitals) was #1 in Patient Safety. 

  Part of that is in fact due to the incredible nursing staff that they have, and the commitment to the nurse-patient ratio. While many hospitals struggle with having enough nurses, Baptist Tipton celebrates their 1 nurse for every 4 patients ratio. “That gives the nurses time to know their patients, know that someone isn’t responding the way they have previously, and know that changes have occurred that should be noted and taken care of, giving the patient the best result,” finished Kim Strickland, Nurse Manager, women’s services and surgical services. The hospital has some of the best practices in the Baptist system, and has climbed to the top tier in patient satisfaction.

  Harris finished, “Patient safety and satisfaction is entirely due to the staff we have in place. They live here, they love the people in our area, and they want the best for their patients.”