Rural clinic plans million-dollar expansion

While necessity may be the mother of invention, in the case of the Kilmichael Clinic in Mont-gomery County, necessity also mandates expansion. For more than 30 years, the Kilmichael Clinic has been operating out of the same cramped facilities. But with the improvements in modern medicine and technology – and a dramatic increase in patients – the clinic’s administrators have resolved to extend their patient services.

“Aesthetically it will be a better facility and it will adequately accommodate our patient flow,” said Kilmichael Hospital Administrator Calvin Johnson.

“We [currently] have an outdated facility and we don’t have enough space for providers. So, we hope to build a new clinic – a bigger clinic.”

Johnson was appointed administrator of the adjoining Kilmichael Hospital in 1999, and his wife, Dr. Katrina Poe, came on board in 2001. Poe is not only the hospital’s chief of staff, but also the only doctor for the clinic.

Poe received national acclaim in 2005 when she was named “Country Doctor of the Year,” after being nominated by members of her clinical staff. Poe became the first black female and the youngest physician to win the coveted award sponsored by Staff Care. She was also featured in several publications including USA Today and Southern Living, and on NBC’s “Making a Difference.”

In recent years, she has received several additional honors, among them, the 2008 Mississippi Business Journal’s Top 40 under 40 and 2006 Fifty Leading Business Women of the Year awards.

Poe, who practices family medicine, said the expansion will bring the clinic up to date in many areas and appeal to future providers.

“The clinic is so small,” Poe said. “We only have three exam rooms. The new clinic will have 10 exam rooms and electronic medical records, which we don’t have now. And eventually, we want to recruit a new physician. So we’re hoping to have enough space for three providers, which is at least two physicians and a nurse practitioner.”

With thousands of active patient charts, and two small sons, Poe stays busy. She returned to her hometown of Kilmichael after completing her medical

training at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. Her return

came at a critical time, when Kilmichael, a town of about 900, was about to lose their only physician. In 2001, she reopened the clinic and she remains on call day and night. She also makes hospital rounds and house calls. She serves as the medical director for the local nursing home and monitors the residents of the community’s home for mentally challenged youth.

Next month, Poe will deliver the commencement program at Mississippi State University in Starkville, her alma mater.

While economic hardships have forced many rural southern clinics to close their doors, the future of Kilmichael’s only hospital and clinic seem secure.

“We’re providing a needed service,” Poe said. “Medical care is truly needed in this area and that’s why we’ve been able to continue to prosper.”

Johnson said the next step for the new clinic, which they plan to build across the street, is to secure a loan for the million dollar project. The preliminary drawings have been completed and the board of supervisors have approved the construction of the 5,500 square foot facility.

Once the new building is complete, the current clinic will be used for additional office space for the hospital staff.

Poe said she’s eager to attract other doctors to the area and to continue to accommodate her many patients.

“I’m excited,” Poe said. “This is going to allow us to have more space and better access to care for our patients. And it’s an opportunity for me to recruit another provider to help care for our patients as well. It’s going to be wonderful.”

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