I am pleased to share some big news for our health care system with you. This month, we welcomed Mississippi Baptist Health Systems in Jackson, Mississippi, to our family of hospitals. With this change, we grew from 17 hospitals to 21. This will make us the largest Baptist health system in the country and the largest health care system in Mississippi. Our network of physicians will increase from 4,000 to 4,600 and our employees will grow from 14,000 to more than 18,000. While these numbers are exciting, what’s most important is the care you’ll receive whether you enter our hospital doors in Yazoo City, Mississippi, or Memphis, Tennessee. You can count on receiving a higher standard of care.

That’s because both health care systems share a commitment to providing the best possible care to our patients and community. In fact, our health care system consistently ranks among the top integrated health care networks in the country. And for two years in a row, Mississippi Baptist’s flagship hospital Baptist Medical Center received the Healthgrades Outstanding Patient Experience Award. The hospital also was recognized in 2017 by Healthgrades as one of America’s 100 Best Hospitals for orthopedic surgery, joint replacement and prostate surgery, and was selected as one of America’s 50 Best Hospitals for vascular surgery.

Our commitment to quality includes giving our patients access to what is recognized as the best electronic health record system in the country: Epic. Through this system, which we call Baptist OneCare, patients can access their medical records at home, at their doctor’s office or in the hospital. This helps ensure seamless care without delays. Our merger with Mississippi Baptist includes expanding this system to their hospitals and clinics. In fact, we’ve already begun the process of installing Baptist OneCare at Mississippi Baptist.

This sharing of technology is just one of the ways this merger will benefit our communities. By combining our resources, we can invest more heavily in our team members, facilities, and equipment, which will result in greater access to new technologies, best practices, and medical specialists.

While I know there is much work to do as we combine our families, I believe our efforts will result in better care and a seamless transition for patients and physicians. I am excited about the future and the opportunity to provide a higher standard of care for our region.