Hood Memorial Hospital Marks 50 Golden Years of Community Care

October 27, 2021

October 27, 2021

Named after a beloved son, Hood Memorial Hospital in Amite can both reflect upon a legacy of caring service and look forward to a promising future as a primary health care resource for residents of Tangipahoa Parish and beyond.

“This hospital was and continues to be about community,” local businessman Bill Hood explains, crediting the many business and civic leaders, church communities and concerned citizens who have supported the facility throughout the years.

The unique community status held by Hood Memorial Hospital is a primary focus this year as the hospital marks its 50th service anniversary.  While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has curtailed plans for a largescale celebration of the milestone, it is being commemorated in perhaps more meaningful ways through expansion of services,infrastructure upgrades and reflecting on the hospital’s past, present and future as a cornerstone of health care in the region it serves.

Bill Hood’s own connection to the hospital runs deep. The hospital is named in memory of his father, Thomas James Hood, who lost his life in 1957 to a heart attack at the age of 34 when the younger Hood was just 7 years old. In the years following Thomas’ passing, Bill’s grandfather and Thomas’ father, Arthur E.(“A.E.”) Hood Sr., purchased around 10 acres of land from the Tangipahoa Parish Fair Association Board and gifted the acreage to Hospital Service District #2of Tangipahoa Parish for the establishment of a hospital.

According to Bill Hood, the act was part of a larger plan to improve the lives of area residents in a meaningful way. “At the time, my grandfather was in the car business andan active philanthropist in the community. There was a medical clinic in Amite,but no hospital. He made it his mission to join Hugh Goldsby, another loca lcitizen who dreamed of establishing a local hospital, in pushing for it,” Hood explains. “They really wanted to have an emergency room and hospital for the local people. That ER has saved many, many, many lives. Even in cases where patients are determined to need a higher level of care, they could be stabilized before being transferred to larger hospitals in Hammond, New Orleans, or Baton Rouge for further treatment.”

Bill Hood is quick to point out that his grandfather was just one of many in the community who were instrumental in raising the building capital through bond sales, the securement of a Hill-Burton grant to establish health care services in a predominantly rural area and passage of tax millages.Others included Frank Patenotte Sr., Joseph Simpson, Dr. Ben Newell and Dr. Clinton Sharp. Still others gifted funds to help furnish the patient rooms.  

Thanks to these collective efforts, Hood Memorial Hospital was dedicated on April 4, 1971as a full-service acute care hospital with 32 patient beds. An additional 13 beds were added in May of that same year. At the time, the Board of Commissioners included Chairman J. Hugh Goldsby, Secretary Joseph H. Simpson, Arthur E. Hood,Sr., A.W. Reed, Douglas Kent Jr., D.V.M. and Clinton M. Sharp, M.D.

Throughout the years, the emergency room was added, Amite Rural Health Clinic was established and, various challenges – many linked to the expense of delivering quality health care in rural areas – prompted the hospital to evolve in the 2000s into a 25-bed critical access facility while continuing to offer acute care services with 24/7 emergency room coverage, as well as swing beds for patients to receive skilled care, wound care and rehabilitative therapy. Through its board of commissioners, the hospital further enforced its position by entering into a cooperative endeavor agreement with North Oaks Health System (which is Hospital Service District #1 of Tangipahoa Parish) in late 2018 for consulting services and leadership.

Reflecting the tenacious and hopeful nature of the community it serves, the hospital has both survived and adapted to meet community need.

“Right now we’re really growing,” asserts Hood Memorial Hospital CEO Mike Whittington.  “We’ve been able to accomplish numerous infrastructure improvements to expand services we provide to our community.”

The hospital has installed a new HEPA-filtered air-conditioning system, two back-up generators and a new elevator.  More obvious upgrades to the interior are aesthetic enhancements and new furnishings,including new beds with an upgraded nurse call system.

As Hood strives to enhance its services and mission, Whittington stresses that the strong bond between the community and the hospital endures. “One silver lining of the pandemic has been the overwhelming support of the community we’ve received,” states Whittington. “Citizens and businesses continue to come together to show their appreciation for our employees in tangible ways,like meals. It means so much to our staff who have dedicated their lives to serving others.”

Of course,recognizing the contributions of the hospital to the community would be incomplete without recognizing the dedication of its past and present employees.

Two such past and present employees are Steven Ellis and Sharon “Cookie” Cutrer.  Ellis began as an X-Ray tech in 1978 and remains on the job as an ultrasonographer, while Cutrer was hired in 1980 as a medical technologist and is currently the laboratory technical supervisor.

During the span of their careers, they saw the technical capabilities of the hospital grow from just a few X-ray machines to multiple diagnostic modalities, including CT,ultrasound and nuclear medicine – all innovations that did not even exist when the hospital opened!  

Both Ellis and Cutrer note that while Hood has seen many changes over the years, the bond shared by the employees has endured. They agree, “We are family caring for your family.”

While much has evolved over the course of the hospital’s 50-year history, its mission to provide the highest level of affordable health care with empathy, compassion and a hometown approach to those it serves has likewise remained steadfast.

“The intent behind opening this hospital was to save lives,” notes Hood. “I use the hospital and clinic all the time. To this day, the care and treatment received has been asalvation to many and, I believe, surpassed the vision and expectations of its founding fathers. It’s truly a blessing to our community.” or follow“HoodMemorialHospital” on social media to learn more about the hospital and Amite Rural Health Clinic. You also may call (985) 748-9485.