By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – St. Dominic Hospital is expanding and updating its emergency department. Hospital leaders sponsored a celebration of the project Tuesday, Feb. 12. Work has already begun, so organizers had to get creative with this event. In lieu of a groundbreaking, hospital, community and diocesan leaders were invited to light up twirling red emergency lights as an official kick-off to the overall project.
The department has gone from seeing 45,000 to 60,000 patients annually in a few short years. The expansion will sit in a space once occupied by the original chapel and an office building. When opened in mid-2020, it will feature, 20 patient rooms, two trauma treatment areas, an exam room, onsite imaging and rooms specifically for mental health. Once the expansion is ready, the existing department will be renovated to match the layout and flow of the new center, adding another 16 rooms and one more exam room.
JACKSON – Work has already started on an expansion to the St. Dominic hospital emergency department.(Photo by Maureen Smith)
The current location had some challenges such as a lack of a dedicated emergency traffic lane and parking. These will be addressed with the expansion. Work is well underway. Those gathered for the celebration could see out of the tent onto a deep hole where infrastructure for the new building will be put into place.
St. Dominic Health Services president Claude Harbarger outlined the project in his opening remarks and welcomed the dignitaries on hand including Bishop Joseph Latino, Bishop Emeritus for the Diocese of Jackson, who blessed the site and the people who will work there. Sister Dorothea Sondgeroth, associate executive director for the St. Dominic Health Services Foundation gave the invocation.
The foundation has raised $7.5 million, but continues to seek $2.5 million for the $10 million it will take for the whole project. Donors can use the St. Dominic donation page on its website, https://payment.stdom.com, and select the Emergency Department Campaign to give to the project.
JACKSON – St. Dominic Hospital is bringing back by popular demand the series: “Dealing with life’s challenges.” Dan Hall, president of Caring Transitions, will conduct the self-help series on Wednesday, Aug. 26, at 11:30 a.m. with the theme “How to start communication about sensitive issues” on Wednesday, Aug. 26, at 11:30 a.m. at St. Dominic Centre.
The second presentation, “Making the holiday joyful (again) – how to overcome seasonal depression,” is set for Wednesday, Nov. 4, at 11:30 a.m. at St. Dominic Centre.
Both presentations are free and open to the public. Another free series to be offered this year, this one on wealth and management, will deal with how people can accumulate, preserve and transfer wealth. Themes, dates and times are:
– “Investment/market update – preserving wealth and safekeeping retirement assets,” Tuesday, Aug. 11, at 11:30 a.m. at St. Dominic’s Centre.
– “Avoiding fraud and the state making decisions for you,” Tuesday, Sept. 8, at 11:30 a.m. at St. Dominic’s Centre.
– “Have you saved enough to retire?” Tuesday, Oct. 13, at 6 p.m. at St. Dominic’s Centre.
For more information call 601-200-6698.
Also, save the date for the annual senior wellness fair to be held on Tuesday, Sept. 22, from 9 a.m. – noon in the Mississippi Trade Mart. This event is free for adults, 55 and older. It’s a fun event with entertainment, exhibits, door prizes, food for all and free health screenings. Flu, pneumonia, shingles and Tdap vaccinations will also be available.
For more information call 601-200-6698.
JACKSON – St. Dominic’s Hospital has received a grant from Astra Zeneca to purchase a smart device application known as Pulsara that provides real-time interaction between field emergency personnel and the hospital’s critical care team. St. Dominic’s will be the first hospital in Mississippi to use this groundbreaking communication platform.
With this application, emergency workers can enter critical information about patients who are having cardiovascular or stroke emergencies. The patient’s information is then sent to alert the hospital’s emergency department before the patient’s arrival.
“This process is extremely monumental in decreasing cardiovascular disease mortality rates,” said Christy McGregor, RN, BSN, Coordinator for St. Dominic’s Level 1 Heart Attack Program. “The Pulsara communication model will help decrease door-to-balloon times for ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI) and stroke patients. These decreased times translate to better outcomes for our patients, including less time spent in the hospital, quality of life and mortality.”
When the Dominican Sisters of Springfield, Illinois, first began to contemplate the purchase of The Jackson Infirmary in 1945, they reached out for advice to then Monsignor Joseph Brunini of the Natchez Diocese, later named bishop of the Natchez-Jackson Diocese. That initial conversation led to a friendship between St. Dominic’s and the Brunini family that has lasted nearly seven decades.
And now, after more than 44 years of service to the hospital, Bishop Brunini’s nephew, Edmund L. (Eddie) Brunini Jr., has retired.
Eddie’s father (brother to Bishop Brunini) and his partner Gordon Grantham contributed their time to providing direction and legal counsel to the Dominican Sisters for many years prior to Eddie graduating law school, recalls Eddie Brunini.
“Gordon was providing his counsel as a nice thing for the Sisters and the hospital but was not really spending a lot of time with them,” said Brunini. “I had just started practicing law and didn’t have much to do with the hospital at that point. Sister Josephine was in charge and one day she stopped me and said, ‘I am going to have a real lawyer here. If you want to be the real lawyer, fine. If not, I will go get somebody else.’”
Sister Josephine was certainly grateful for the counsel she had received over the years, but she was ready to have a more full-time legal presence, recalls Eddie.
“Eddie was a rookie lawyer not long after I first came to St. Dominic’s,” said Sister Dorothea Sondgeroth, associate executive director of the St. Dominic Health Services Foundation. “Even in those early years of his career, he always gave us solid advice and was always available when we needed legal counsel.”
“We often said, when we had big issues, ‘What would Eddie Brunini say?’ And we often turned to him with difficult and challenging issues that confronted us,” said Claude Harbarger, president of St. Dominic Health Services. “He also had the confidence of the Dominican Sisters in Springfield. They knew they would get objective, good information, always with the best interest of St. Dominic’s and the Dominican Sisters at heart.”
“It is very unusual to find someone like Eddie who has served as an attorney for one organization for so long,” said Lester Diamond, president of St. Dominic Hospital. “He has had other areas of practice, oil and gas among them, but much of his time was spent with St. Dominic’s. We have been fortunate to have that dedication from him.”
Sister Sondgeroth also commented on how Brunini had a talent with people and with interjecting levity to help relieve tension.
“I remember one time we were in a long meeting and Eddie just stood up, got in a golf stance and began swinging an imaginary five iron as though he wished he was on the golf links instead of in the meeting,” she said. “It made us all laugh and came at just the right time to cue us to make a decision and adjourn.”
“He has a very likable personality,” said Harbarger. “He is a master storyteller, and his stories were always well received. He brought a lot of laughter with him in an upbeat way.”
JACKSON – At 7:45 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 18, Father Michael O’Brien of St. Richard Parish gathered with volunteers, Habitat for Humanity Mississippi Capital Area staff and homeowner Carolyn Madlock, to bless Catholic Build 2014 in Jackson. Every fall parishes in the Jackson area pool resources and volunteers to build a house for a family. This is the 29th year for the project.
Father O’Brien began with a reading from the Acts of the Apostles about how the early Christian community shared everything. “I thought that passage might be very appropriate because that is our version of that today – the community coming together, to make sacrifices, to work together, to give of their time and gifts and talents to build a house together for Carolyn and her family,” said Father O’Brien. Madlock is an employee of St. Dominic Hospital.
Ibby Joseph, a member of Madison St. Francis of Assisi has helped build 12 homes. “My husband got me started. It makes me feel useful. I agree that everyone deserves decent housing,” she said. “This is a little way that I can help. My sister teased me that the houses that I worked on will fall down. I don’t think they have,” joked Joseph.
Marion Coleman is a Habitat homeowner and a fellow employee at St. Dominic. She said she came out to pay it forward. Her coworker, Marshall Belaga, said this is his way of contributing to the overall health of the community. “One of the things that as a psychiatrist I deal with is a lot of people who live on the streets. Housing and a secure place to live, along with food, are a prerequisite to mental health,” he said.
Jim Jeter, chief development officer and foundation executive director at St. Dominic Health Services and member of the Habitat for Humanity Mississippi Capital Area Board of Directors, was on hand to work.
“Many people do not understand what a ‘not-for-profit’ healthcare organization really means. St. Dominic’s leadership and employee involvement in Catholic Build is one of many examples of how we try to give back to the community we serve,” Jeter said.
“Our only reason for existing is to serve our community with time, talent and treasure,” he explained. “We are a ministry of Christian healing, and Habitat is just one way that we give back. I am proud to serve on a board that truly helps individuals by giving a hand up, not a hand out,” continued Jeter.
Charles Graham, a member of Christ the King Parish, has been volunteering at Habitat builds for 18-20 years, volunteering initially in a community service project with fellow firemen. “I do it to give back. I have been blessed and want to pass on that blessing,” he explained. “I like building and repairing, and have the skills and tools. It was just a natural for me, when I retired from the fire department, to keep on volunteering at Habitat builds. Once you work on a build, you are hooked,” he noted.
Volunteers also came from Gluckstadt St. Joseph and the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle. Habitat homeowners must invest ‘sweat equity’ in their homes, meaning they work to help build and maintain their homes. The organization will help them learn about homeownership and money management even after they move in. Work will continue for two months.
Plans are already underway for the 2015 Catholic Build. For more info, contact Merrill McKewen, resource development director, Habitat for Humanity Mississippi Capital Area, at 601-353-6060.
(Peggy Hampton, Public Relations, Marketing and Fundraising Coordinator for Habitat for Humanity and Maureen Smith contributed to this report)