TUTWILER — Tallahatchie County General Hospital is in the process of acquiring Tutwiler Clinic. Dr. Ann Brooks, SNJM, and her staff will continue caring for patients, but they will now have support from the hospital and its staff in what Sister Brooks is calling a ‘win-win’ situation. Administrators hope to complete the transition in early November.
“We were running everything ourselves,” said Sister Brooks. She said while she loves her patients and the community, she welcomes help with day-to-day operations and marketing.
“They have already sent someone from their IT department to work on my computer,” she said. The hospital’s communications department designed a new logo and website for the clinic. The website should be online in the coming weeks.
Tutwiler Clinic is a full-time health care clinic for patients in this underserved area of the Mississippi Delta. Thirty staff members, including two nurse practitioners and two physicians, care for the patients from babies to the elderly. The staff includes Sister Joann Blomme, OP, a counselor, Sister Cora Lee Middleton, RN, clinic coordinator, several case workers and even a van driver for patients who need transportation to appointments. Donated equipment allows the staff to perform lab tests, X-rays and EKG tests. Patients pay based on a sliding scale and the care his holistic, not just symptom management.
“Dr. Brooks’ mission is to make everyone responsible for their own health,” said Cindy Herring, co-director of public relations. She told the story of when she had a headache and Dr. Brooks showed her how to use pressure points instead of medications to relieve it. Herring said since learning the technique she has stopped having to take sinus medications.
Three Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary joined Sister Anne Brooks, D.O., in opening the Tutwiler Clinic on August 15, 1983. That morning then Bishop William Houck offered the Mass for the Feast of the Assumption at the home of the sisters and then went with them to bless the Clinic. In the 33 years since the Tutwiler Clinic has opened, the staff has logged 253,741 patient visits – 7,289 of those were in 2015 alone.
“We’re never sure what medical problems we’ll see each day, but diabetes and hypertension are always on the list,” said Dr. Brooks. She remembered one patient who came in after a tornado passed through the town in December of 2015. “A thin man, who looked pretty dejected was seated on the treatment table. A blood scab was forming on his head. I sat beside him, resting my arm on his shoulders. ‘What can we do for you today,’ I asked softly. He sat a little taller and then, looking straight at me he said, ‘I came to hug everyone on your staff, because my wife is alive and I’m alive.’ What could I say?” she said as she swallowed hard.
Early in the development of the clinic, Sister Maureen Delaney, SNJM, joined the staff to help with outreach and social concerns. Her work expanded and outgrew the clinic. She ended up founding the Tutwiler Community Education Center, which is still going strong today under new leadership since Sr. Delaney was elected Provincial Superior of her order.
Television shows such as “Good Morning, America” and “Sixty Minutes” aired documentaries in 1990 on Dr. Brooks and the work of the staff at the Clinic, and the ensuing donations from many caring folks helped enlarge the clinic and its scope of services. The clinic still depends on donations to fulfill its mission. Learn more online at www.tutwilerclinic.org.