‘He’s my world’: With nearly half of Mississippi’s rural hospitals at risk of closing, families share the human side of what’s at stake

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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 Stokes


The University of Mississippi Medical Center – Grenada

Mary Wright

Merit Health Natchez











Lisa Busby


Franklin County Memorial Hospital – Meadville

Melissa Wheatly


Field Health System – Centreville

Julius Anderson