Southeast Mississippi Rural Health Initiative, Inc. was formally organized in May 1979 for the purpose of improving the health status of the residents of a predominantly rural area of southeast Mississippi.
The organization began delivering primary care services in 1980 at its first clinic in the Town of Sumrall, serving the residents of Lamar and Covington Counties. Later that year, a second clinic was opened in the Town of New Augusta, serving the residents of Perry County, followed by a third clinic the next year in the Town of Seminary in Covington County.
In October 1994, SeMRHI received approval for a major expansion of services to the City of Hattiesburg through Section 330, Community Health Center funds. A 6,700 sq. ft. building to house the Hattiesburg Family Health Center operation and the administrative staff of the organization was completed in May 1997.
New clinic sites were added in October 1997 and July 1998 in the towns of Brooklyn and Lumberton respectively, bringing the total of clinics in the system to six.
State funds were awarded in 1999 through the Mississippi Qualified Health Center Program and SeMRHI utilized the funds to subsidize the establishment of a dental clinic and a Social Services Department.
The enhanced commitment to women’s health services began in 1997 with the assumption of full prenatal and perinatal services. These programs quickly outgrew their wing of the Hattiesburg Family Health Center, and the Women’s Health Center opened in October 2000, adjacent to the Hattiesburg Family Health Center.
The Hattiesburg Community Dental Center opened for business in a modular facility configured specifically to house dental services in February 2000 and was located adjacent to the Hattiesburg Family Health Center at Old Airport Road. During the next seven years, many patients received quality dental services and plans were always in the making for a modern, state-of-the-art facility to house the dental clinic. The permanent facility became a reality in May 2007 when SeMRHI announced the opening of a cutting edge facility that boasts 6 operators, digital x-ray, and new furnishings throughout.
Hattiesburg Family Health Center/Downtown was opened during the summer of 2001. This Center services the PACE Head Start Program and the general public and offers all the services provided by the existing Community Health Centers under the umbrella of Southeast Mississippi Rural Health Initiative, Inc. The Center is located adjacent to the PACE Offices at 100 West Front Street.
Beaumont Family Health Center was opened in February 2002 after a study revealed that the City of Beaumont was in need of full time medical services.
In 2003, SeMRHI began negotiations with the Hattiesburg Public Schools to implement a healthcare program geared toward well-student assessments. Screening students regularly and treating health or dental problems at the onset would greatly improve the overall health of students and provide for less absenteeism in the school system. In August 2004, the Hattiesburg Public School and Community Clinic was opened and has been very successful. Located on the campus of the Lillie Burney Elementary School, the clinic serves the entire school district as well as the community.
In late 2004, SeMRHI was able to implement the same programs with the Forrest County School System and the Perry County School District by having a Nurse Practitioner and Nurse go to South Forrest Attendance Center, Earl Travillion Attendance Center, Beaumont Elementary, and New Augusta Elementary and assess the students at the schools.
The Pharmacy Assistance Center, in a joint partnership with Forrest General Hospital, opened an in-house 340b pharmacy in September 2004. The PAC offers medication to patients of SeMRHI at reduced prices.
The Hattiesburg High School Campus Clinic opened in November 2005 in a classroom. A modular building was placed on the campus at 605 Stadium Drive the latter part of 2006 and services are now offered from that facility for the community.
A Minor Care Clinic opened in April 2007 in an effort to accommodate patients needing primary care services rather than going to the emergency room for their services.
The Petal School Clinic opened in February 2014 with a School based health center grant. This clinic serves the students and faculty of the Petal school district.
N.R. Burger opened in July 2014 without additional funds but in a partnership with the Hattiesburg Public School District. This clinic is to serve the approximately 650 students and facility of N R Burger Middle school and provide healthcare for the local community.
In September 2014, SeMRHI was awarded expanded services funds to provide vision services provided by an optometrist and her assistant and a nurse practitioner and nurse to conduct well child exams in the schools. The funds also will assist patients in purchasing glasses, and referrals to an Ophthalmologist.
With all the achievements of the clinics as noted in this narrative, SeMRHI now boasts a total of 17 community health centers that serve the Pine belt area and the surrounding communities, providing access to much needed health care. An additional 22 school clinics are also listed in SeMRHI’s scope of services.