Loritta Sullivan waits outside of Wayne General Hospital in Waynesboro with tears in her eyes as her son goes through laparoscopic gallbladder surgery. Earlier, she received heart-breaking news that he also has spots on his lungs that are too small for doctors to perform a biopsy to determine if they are cancerous.

Wayne General is the only hospital within 54 miles of the city. The next nearest is Anderson Regional Medical Center in Meridian. If Wayne General wasn’t there, Sullivan’s other option would be to make the more than one-hour trip to Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg – 62 miles from her hometown of Waynesboro.

Mississippi has 64 rural hospitals, and 31 of those are at risk of closing, according to a recent report. The state has the highest percentage of at risk rural hospitals in the country. The risks are determined by financial factors raised in an analysis by management and consulting firm Navigant.

In this essay, hospital employees, former patients and families of patients from around the state share what their hospitals mean to them and their communities.

Wayne General Hospital – Waynesboro

Loritta Sullivan

Bolivar Medical Center – Cleveland

Lewis Stokes & Tabitha Stokeshttps://mississippitoday.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Tabitha-and-Lewis-Stokes.mp3

The University of Mississippi Medical Center – Grenada

Credit: Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today/Report For America

Mary Wright
https://mississippitoday.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Mary-Wright.mp3

Credit: Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today/Report For America

Merit Health Natchez

Credit: Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today/Report For America

Lisa Busby
https://mississippitoday.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Lisa-Busby.mp3

Credit: Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today/Report For America

Franklin County Memorial Hospital – Meadville

Credit: Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today/Report For America

Melissa Wheatlyhttps://mississippitoday.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Melissa-Wheatley.mp3

Field Health System – Centreville

Credit: Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today/Report For America
Credit: Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today/Report For America

Julius Andersonhttps://mississippitoday.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Julius.mp3


We want to hear from you!

Central to our mission at Mississippi Today is inspiring civic engagement. We think critically about how we can foster healthy dialogue between people who think differently about government and politics. We believe that conversation — raw, earnest talking and listening to better understand each other — is vital to the future of Mississippi. We encourage you to engage with us and each other on our social media accounts, email our reporters directly or leave a comment for our editor by clicking the button below.


Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.

Eric J. Shelton is a 2018 corps member in Report for America, and joined the team as our first photojournalist. A native of Columbia, Miss., Eric earned his bachelor’s in photojournalism from the University of Southern Mississippi. He was a multimedia journalist for Abilene Reporter-News, chief photographer for the Hattiesburg American and photo editor for the Killeen Daily Herald before joining our team June 2018.