Home Breaking News HMH names chief nursing officer

HMH names chief nursing officer


By John R. Schirmer

News-Leader staff

Paula Mitchell, PhD, MSN, BSN, has been named chief nursing officer at Howard Memorial Hospital, according to Debra Wright, the hospital’s CEO.

Mitchell’s official start date was July 18, Wright told the hospital board last week.

“She brings a wealth of experience to the position, having worked as the senior director of critical services with oversight for 120 staff members at a tertiary hospital,” Wright said.

Prior to this position, Mitchell worked as an associate professor of nursing in a university setting.

She also has worked as an assistant director of emergency services, according to Wright.

Her clinical background as a staff nurse includes experience in both emergency department and intensive care unit nursing.

Mitchell moved from Monroe, La., to Murfreesboro a few months ago, Wright said.

In another personnel update, Wright said the recruiter with Merritt Hawkins responsible for finding a family medicine physician told her “that the position more than likely will be filled with a physician completing residency in June 2023.”

Covid-19 update

HMH saw an increase in drive-through Covid-19 testing requests during July, Wright said. Howard, Hempstead, Pike, Sevier and Little River counties were rated “medium level” for the number of virus cases as of July 21, according to Wright. “Due to home test results not being reported, the number of positive cases may be understated.”

Wright said there has been a “steady number of Covid cases admitted to the hospital. A few are admitted for Covid, but the majority are being admitted for other conditions and, when tested for Covid prior to admission, have tested positive.”

Several employees have tested positive for the virus, Wright told the board. “The current variant seems to be more contagious than others, and most of the employees who tested positive worked in close proximity with someone who was positive but not necessarily exhibiting any symptoms. Thus 

far, no employees have had to be hospitalized for Covid treatment.”

Installation of antimicrobial flooring is still in progress for surgical services, Wright said. The project has begun in radiology. When finished there, installation will begin in rehab services.

The Public Health Emergency has been extended through Oct. 13 with a 60-day notice clause before termination, according to Wright. Several waivers have been in place due to the PHE “that apply to and benefit critical access hospital. With the increase in Covid cases, these waivers need to remain in place,” Wright said.


Howard Memorial reported net income of $42,149 in June, according to CFO Bill Craig. The hospital budget projected a profit of about $24,047, a variance of $18,102.

HMH had 32.9 days revenue in accounts receivable for June, less than the target of 45 days.

The hospital had 146 days cash on hand, one day above the target of 145.

Craig said Howard Memorial saw “improved volume in ED and surgical services” for the month.

ED visits totaled 894, Craig said, 19 above budget.

Surgery cases were nine above budget at 101, compared to the budget of 92.

The average daily census was 4.6 patients per day, compared to the budget of 7.5.

Outpatient visits were 2,505, or 2.3 percent below budget.

Craig said operating costs for June were about $16,000 below budget.

The RN crisis rate of pay is scheduled to sunset in August.

There was no cost in June for third party RN staffing agencies.

A contracted volume guarantee was included in the ED physician contract.

Craig said HMH received about $121,400 in stimulus monies, above budget by about $71,400.

Medical staff

Dr. John Hearnsberger presented the medical staff report.

Appointments included Dr. Cecil Cowan and Nurse Practitioner Sunni Tollett.

Dr. Phillip Glasgow, Dr. Frank Edwards and Dr. William Kelley were reappointed.

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