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posted December 1, 2021

December 1, 2021, SeMRHI will provide free rapid HIV testing, door prizes, and giveaways in honor of World AIDS Day!  The event will be held at Hattiesburg Family Health Center, 66 Old Airport Road, Hattiesburg, MS 39401, from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.  For more information, call (601) 582-2619.

CQII congratulates Southeast Mississippi Rural Health Initiative, Inc. (SeMRHI) for their outstanding work around improving their viral suppression rates. CQII is honored to present them with the 2021 Award for Measurable Improvements in HIV Care to Mitigate HIV Disparities.

SeMRHI is a network of federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), which provides integrated primary, HIV, and behavioral health care services for people with HIV in southern Mississippi. With 5 school-based health centers, they provide HIV education, prevention, and testing for youth. “What I’m most proud of are the patients,” said Tonya Green, the Director of Social Services and Ryan White Program Coordinator at SeMRHI’s Hattiesburg Family Health Center. “I’m really proud of their willingness to get into care and being proactive in their health care despite all of the stigma. We could not do what we do without these young patients being engaged, open-minded, and trustworthy of us in this journey they’re going through.”

SeMRHI participated in CQII’s past two collaboratives (end+disparities Collaborative and create+equity Collaborative) and used data-driven quality improvement techniques to identify youth who are not virally suppressed or have missed appointments. Medical case managers used a patient checklist to identify and address barriers to antiretroviral therapy (ART) and medical care adherence. ‘Health literacy illustration’ tools were used to visually help youth understand the effects of ART on viral suppression rates. SeMRHI’s goals of this intervention included to improve youth outreach, especially to those who were not virally suppressed; identify barriers to care and make appropriate referrals; increase health literacy; manage mental and substance use issues affecting youth; and ensure consistent follow-up on missed appointments.

This intervention was successful in improving viral suppression rates for youth, defined as ages 13 through 24. Over a 12-month period from July 2018 to June 2019, viral suppression rates for youth increased from 58% to 78%. The viral suppression rates for youth continue to be sustained at rates at or above 75%. As of April 2021, the current viral suppression rate for youth ages 13-24 was 77%. As a result of this intervention’s success, it has now been implemented for patients of all ages, not exclusively for youth patients.

This is not to say that SeMRHI did not face any challenges along the way. COVID-19 brought about unprecedented barriers to the work they do. “COVID-19 really mirrors HIV,” reflected Tonya. “The treatment and the guidelines were constantly changing, just like when HIV came out. The greatest challenge was having to wrap our head around what is COVID-19 and how we can educate our patients on ongoing safety measures.” Through the pandemic, SeMRHI succeeded in introducing a virtual consumer advisory board and through this, they were able to provide patients with peer support and education about COVID-19.

Some words of wisdom Tonya gives for other providers is to find your niche. “If you could do something for free for the rest of your life that makes you happy, that is your passion,” emphasized Tonya. “My passion is in HIV care, and I really love what I do.”

Southeast Mississippi Rural Health Initiative, Inc. (SeMRHI)
Tonya Green, Director of Social Services
Email: tgreen@semrhi.com
Phone: 601-582-2619

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Did you know breast cancer is the most common cancer for women in the U.S.? Each year, about 245,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in U.S. women.

Ladies, get your free clinical breast exam, October 18 – October 22, at one of our clinics in Hattiesburg, Beaumont, Brooklyn, Lumberton, Picayune, Seminary, or Sumrall. Follow-up appointments and referrals will be available. No appointment is necessary! For more information, call (601) 658-0058.

Southeast Mississippi Rural Health Initiative, Inc. receives national recognition for efforts to improve care for patients with Type 2 diabetes.

Southeast Mississippi Rural Health Initiative, Inc. (SeMRHI) has received the American Heart Association’s Target: Type 2 Diabetes℠ Participant Award for outpatient practices implementing quality improvement measures addressing the relationship between diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Every 80 seconds, an adult with diabetes in the U.S. is hospitalized for heart disease, which can lead to a heart attack. To earn the Target: Type 2 Diabetes℠ award, organizations must commit to improving the quality of care for patients with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular risk factors by adopting clinical change and using evidence-based strategies and tools.

Southeast Mississippi Rural Health Initiative, Inc. (SeMRHI) is dedicated to providing specialized care for patients with type 2 diabetes in managing their cardiovascular risk factors,” said Dr. Geroldean Dyse. “We are pleased to be recognized by the American Heart Association for our execution of quality care through Target: Type 2 Diabetes. The tools and resources provided help us track and measure our success in meeting evidenced-based clinical guidelines developed to improve patient outcomes.”

The Participant award recognizes practices that have completed data submission, including clinical measure entry, and committed to improving the quality of care for patients with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular risk factors.

“More than 30 million Americans live with diabetes and cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for people living with type 2 diabetes,” said Gregg C. Fonarow, MD, FAHA, volunteer expert from the American Heart Association and chief of the UCLA Division of Cardiology, director of the Ahmanson-UCLA Cardiomyopathy Center, and co-director of UCLA’s Preventive Cardiology Program.  “Organizations that participate in programs like this help raise awareness of the link between diabetes and cardiovascular disease and can improve the patient outcomes. We are pleased to recognize Southeast Mississippi Rural Health Initiative, Inc. (SeMRHI) for their commitment to quality care.”

Special thanks to BancorpSouth for your generous donation to Southeast Mississippi Rural Health Initiative, Inc. (SeMRHI). We are truly appreciative. With your donation, we are able to expand our homeless voucher program by adding additional health services.

Southeast Mississippi Rural Health Initiative, Inc. earns national recognition for efforts to reduce the number of patients with uncontrolled blood pressure!

The American Heart Association and American Medical Association celebrate Southeast Mississippi Rural Health Initiative, Inc. for their commitment to prioritizing blood pressure control.

 Southeast Mississippi Rural Health Initiative, Inc. has been recognized by the American Heart Association (AHA) and American Medical Association (AMA) for their commitment to helping improve blood pressure (BP) control rates among the patient populations they serve, earning Silver Level Recognition as part of the 2021 Target: BP™ Recognition Program.

  • The Silver Award recognizes practices that have demonstrated a commitment to improving blood pressure control through measurement accuracy.


Hypertension (high BP) is a leading risk factor for heart attacks, strokes, and preventable death in the U.S. In addition, there are 121.5 million U.S. adults living with high BP and less than half of those people have their BP under control[1] – making both diagnosing and effectively managing hypertension critical. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that heart disease and stroke continue to kill more people in the U.S. than other causes.

“High blood pressure is a leading risk factor of heart disease and stroke that can often be prevented or managed if diagnosed and treated properly,” said Dr. Geroldean Dyse. “Addressing blood pressure management is key for better cardiovascular health – and critical today since heart disease and strokes continue to be a leading cause of death for Americans.”

Target: BP is a national collaboration between the AHA and the AMA aimed at reducing the number of Americans who suffer from heart attacks and strokes each year by urging physician practices, health systems, and patients to prioritize BP control. The initiative aims to help health care organizations improve blood pressure control rates through the use of AMA MAP BP™ evidence-based protocols and recognizes Southeast Mississippi Rural Health Initiative, Inc. as being committed to improving blood pressure control.

The Target: BP Recognition Program celebrates physician practices and health systems, who treat patients with hypertension, for achieving BP control rates at or above 70 percent within the populations they serve. These achievements will ultimately lead to a reduction in the number of Americans who suffer heart attacks and strokes.

Learn more at TargetBP.org.

This week at Southeast Mississippi Rural Health Initiative, Inc. (SeMRHI), we are offering free health check-ups in observation of National Health Center Week at our clinic locations in Beaumont, Brooklyn, Hattiesburg, Lumberton, New Augusta, Picayune, Seminary, and Sumrall.  No appointment is necessary. Click on the link below to check out the news coverage about our National Health Center Week event with WDAM 7.


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