Hospital Moving Forward From Katrina

By Danielle Thomas - bio | email

GILFPORT (WLOX)--A newly released report shows coast recovery is excelling in some areas and lagging in others. On Monday,  the Gulf Coast Business Council released the report called "Mississippi Gulf Coast; Three years after Katrina.

Part of the business council report  focused on healthcare on the coast. It noted that Memorial Hospital, which lost hundreds of employees after Katrina, has hired 1484 people since the storm.

Dr. Lee Voulters says when he was given the opportunity to move to the Mississippi Coast to help create the state's first and only stroke center in March of 2007, he took it. For the neurologist,  the challenge of working in a hurricane devastated area only added to the attraction.

"To get in at the ground floor," said Dr. Voulters. "To grow and build. Take the opportunity and grow with the community was very attractive."

Gulfport Memorial officials say by the spring after Katrina. they'd lost dozens of medical workers. By using incentive packages, the hospital has lured in 24 doctors.. and grown its medical staff to 280 which is slightly more than the 267 that were working here three years ago.

Hospital CEO Gary Marchand said "What we're finding is that there is actually a level of interest for people to come into this community at this time, at this point in our recovery. They feel like it's a ground floor investment. And that they're going to be able to have an impact on what the community is in the future. That and we've made every effort to be nationally competitive in terms of salary. "

Hospital officials say not only are they working hard to recruit new staff. They're also concentrating on keeping what they have. They've done that through pay raises. They say in the coming fiscal year they'll pay out 25 percent more in salaries than they did back in 2005.

"It was even much more acute for the medical staff, because they like our employees could go to work in any US city they wanted to," said Marchand. "So our immediate efforts was to give everyone some financial security, however that would work out."

Now a hospital that never closed during Katrina is proud to say it's been able to move forward.

Marchand said "The big success story is that we offer the same or more services today than we did the day Katrina landed."