The Mississippi Health Care Alliance evolved from a brainstorming meeting between leadership from Mississippi Baptist Medical Center (MBMC) of Jackson and North Mississippi Medical Center (NMMC) on January 3, 2007.

Chuck Stokes CEO, Murray Estes MD, Barry Bertolet MD, Butch Guest MD and George Hand, Cath lab Director of NMMC met with Gerald Cotton CEO and Steve Jackson VP of MBMC and Cindy Lynch RN of Schering Plough.

Consideration of a hospital based quality program to include a data registry CRUSADE, sponsored by Duke Clinical Research Institute and Schering-Plough was the purpose of the meeting. Discussions centered on the impact of cardiovascular disease, specifically CMS’s recognition of ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI) and Non-ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction (NSTEMI) as separate treatable conditions, and the impact of each on complications, length of stay, cost and mortality.

Mississippi Baptist Medical Center and North Mississippi Medical Center agreed to work together sharing best practices. They would ask Forrest General Hospital (FGH) in south central part of the state and Singing River Health Systems (SRHS) on the coast to join and form the framework of the Mississippi Health Care Alliance (MHCA).  It was hoped to eventually join all major hospitals in this mission.

On January 17, 2007 these four hospitals came together for the first meeting of the Alliance held in the board room at Mississippi Baptist Medical Center.  Attendees included Gerald Cotton CEO, Steve Jackson VP,   and Heather Sistrunk CV Director of MBMC; Bill Oliver CEO and Angela Pace, Quality Director of FGH; George Hand CV Director of NMMC; Larry Shoemaker CMO of SRHS and Cindy Lynch RN of Schering-Plough.

Discussions centered on the many devastating diseases that plague our state.   It was decided that the Mississippi Healthcare Alliance needed to address cardiovascular disease (CVD), the number one cause for admissions, mortality and consumption of health care resources, 400 billion annually.  Three problematic areas within CVD were identified—STEMI, NSTEMI and Heart Failure.  The Alliance hospitals agreed to set the standards in striving for excellence in the care and treatment of cardiovascular disease by leading efforts surrounding the STEMI patient.

The Mission and Vision of the Alliance was formed:

Mission: Improve the health status of Mississippians

Vision: Unite stakeholders to bring about an alignment of efforts that reduce morbidity, mortality, and cost associated with problematic disease process that plague our community

The Mission and Vision would be carried out through four pillars of focus: Education, Marketing, Community and Networking.

The Alliance continued to form its foundations, share best practice and plan for roll out across the state through May 2008. At that time the cardiology community in the capital went through dynamic changes and the Alliance was put on hold.

December 2008 Dr. Harper Stone, Cardiologist of Jackson Heart Clinic decided to revive the Alliance.  Dr. Stone met with Heather Sistrunk, Cindy Lynch and Tobey Houston to discuss Mission, Vision, initial areas of focus and fundamental pillars.  It was decided to pull together the founding members.

ACC MS Chapter held its Annual Meeting on Saturday, May 30, 2009 at the Oxford Conference Center in Oxford, MS.  This meeting was held in conjunction with MS State Medical Association Annual Meeting.  In attendance were Dr. Harper Stone, Dr. Bryan Barksdale, Dr. Michael Mansour, Dr. Thad Waites, Dr. Murray Estess and Heather Sistrunk.  Dr. Stone gave a presentation to the attendees to introduce them to the MS Healthcare Alliance and explain to them how the mission of the Alliance was to improve quality of care in our state.  He discussed the means whereby we as a statewide entity would work to get this mission accomplished.

The first true Statewide Meeting of MHCA called by Dr. Stone was held at River Hills Country Club in Jackson on August 6, 2009. Those in attendance include
Dr. Harper Stone, Dr. Murray Estess, George Hand, Dr. Barry Bertolet, Tobey Houston, RN, Dr. William Harper, Mark Slyter, Jerry Cotton, Heather Sistrunk, RN, Mike O’Leary, Lester Diamond, Dr. Richard Rayford, Dr. Thad Waites, Dr. Bob Wilkins, Evan Dillard, and Cindy Lynch, RN.  The agenda included an overview and call to action of national and Mississippi statistics of heart disease, governmental regulation of problematic diagnoses with starting poing-CVD.  The fundamentals of a State System of Care would include:

  • Standardized practice based on evidenced based medicine
  • Maximized Health Care Access
  • Professional and community Education
  • Demonstration of Quality Performance through data collection, review and process improvement
  • Participation in research opportunities

This would later become a state project to include all 19 Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI) Hospitals, Non-PCI Hospitals, Emergency Medical Services and other healthcare partners. It was decided to use the model of North Carolinas approach, the Reperfusion AMI of Carolinas Emergency Department (RACE), and the ACTION registry to identify metrics measure the process.  At this time all 19 Centers agreed to provide seed funding for MHCA to jumpstart the processes.

August 28, 2010,  MHCA hosted its first statewide symposium for all 19 PCI Centers including representation from Cardiologists, Emergency Physicians, Hospital Administrators, Nurses, EMS, insurers and other partners to begin providing education related to forming a STEMI system of care.  Partners with the alliance include The American Heart Association, The American Academy of Cardiology, the State Department of Health, Mississippi Hospital Association, and Wise Carter Child and Caraway, P.A.  Lieutenant Governor Phil Bryant closed the symposium with remarks and a call to action.

Since August 2009 the Alliance has held regular meetings with hospitals and partners working to enhance communication and care among all healthcare providers, including statewide medication protocols, educational symposiums and regional structure.   All hospitals are submitting data through ACTION/Mission Lifeline registry, and Mississippi will be the first state to generate a state report. This report will demonstrate areas for focus and educational opportunities as well as best practices.  In 2011, MHCA began efforts to develop Stroke System of care. In October 2012 Dee Howard, RN was named Executive Director, and Angie Carter was named Executive Assistant.  January 2013 MHCA received 501(c)3 designation with IRS in order to receive funding through the MS Legislature as a line item in the MSDH Health Bill.

The Stroke System of Care was adopted by MSDH October 9, 2013.  Mississippi became the first state in the United States to have three Systems of Care to include Trauma, STEMI, and Stroke.