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Three Rural Georgia Hospitals Recognized Nationally


The Georgia Rural Health Innovation Center would like to congratulate Lorraine Smith, CEO of Monroe County Hospital, and Laura Gentry, BSN, RN, CEO of Atrium Health Navicent Peach for making the Becker’s Hospital Review’s 67 Rural Hospital CEOs to know in 2022. The Center also extends congratulations to Jefferson County Hospital for making the National Rural Health Associations’ Top 20 Rural and Community Hospital list.

These three rural hospitals received nationally-recognized honors for their excellent work serving their patients throughout the pandemic and helping ensure the hospital’s future financial stability. While hospitals across the country struggled the last few years, these rural organizations and their leaders have developed successful models for navigating the pandemic.

Lorraine Smith has served as the CEO of Monroe County Hospital, an Atrium Health Navicent partner, since February 2018. When she joined Monroe County Hospital, the hospital had been struggling financially. Monroe County Hospital worked together with their community to increase the tax millage rate to provide funding for care and services. This increase allowed the hospital to clear old debts and jump-start new programs. With the support of Atrium Health, Smith and her team were also able to provide care to a higher acuity of patients because of telehealth and shared best practices.

Laura Gentry, BSN, RN, CEO of Atrium Health Navicent Peach had a similar journey with her hospital. Gentry joined Atrium Health Navicent Peach in 2015 as a Chief Nursing Officer and was named the CEO of the facility in March 2018.  Under her leadership, the hospital expanded its outpatient lab and radiology services, developed a strong swing bed unit, and has seen growth in inpatient visits. She and her team stepped up during the pandemic and put back on their scrubs when needed. They credit much of their success during the pandemic to the support of Atrium Health for their telehealth services and educational training.

Jefferson County Hospital ranked as one of the Top 20 rural and community hospitals by the National Rural Health Association based on eight key factors: inpatient market share, outpatient market share, quality, outcomes, patient perspective, cost, charge, and financial efficiency.  In response to Jefferson County Hospital’s jump into the Top 20, Wendy Martin, CEO, said this: “We moved from the Top 100 to the Top 20 because we manage patient volume and our expenses well. All of our team is aware of our expenditures, our customer service is excellent because we are serving the community we love, and we have a thriving partnership with Augusta University which provided telehealth services through the pandemic. We are now building on this relationship to offer telehealth for other lines of service to better serve our community.”

The Center collaborates with these hospitals and has provided the Hospital Leadership Training Program to all rural community hospitals in Georgia since 2019. We are proud to recognize these outstanding organizations and their leadership.

If you would like to learn more about the Hospital Leadership Training Program, or the participating hospitals, please click the link below.

Hospital Leadership Training | Georgia Rural Health Innovation Center