Jackson County

Patients, some fragile, tell supervisors SRHS mishandled Millette transition

Jacquelyn Bleau, left, talks to Jackson County supervisors as Nora Richburg signs up to speak.
Jacquelyn Bleau, left, talks to Jackson County supervisors as Nora Richburg signs up to speak. klnelson@sunherald.com

Patients of Dr. Terry Millette asked the Jackson County Board of Supervisors to hold the administration of the county hospital system accountable for the way it handled ending the contract of the long-time neurologist.

The patients, some fragile and shedding tears, told the board on Monday the administration put lives at risk when they abruptly ended its contract with Millette and closed him out of his office without a transition plan for patients in advance.

The hospital system abruptly let Millette go a week ago. Then CEO Kevin Holland and Chief Medical Officer Randy Roth sent letters to Millette’s patients with multiple sclerosis last week, telling them the hospital system would no longer work with Millette and that his patients needed to be re-evaluated. The hospital system offered to help set up re-evaluations and gave a number to call for appointments.

But patients said they are concerned they will miss treatments that keep them stable. Some are scheduled for re-evaluations at the end of the month or next month in New Orleans or Jackson.

Becky Southern told supervisors she got a letter in the mail and not a call, “but I do not want to change doctors. I want my neurologist.”

If they were going to get rid of him, they should have had it better planned so that so many lives were not at stake.

Jacquelyn Bleau, patient of Dr. Terry Millette

More than a dozen patients and doctors showed up to plead their plight to the board. They handed out yellow ribbons and stickers that say “I support Dr. Terry Millette,” with a color photo of him.

Marlene Tompkins told the board “he’s about health and service and not the almighty dollar.”

Others stressed that Millette was born and raised in Jackson County and lauded him for returning to the community to practice.

Before the meeting, Jacquelyn Bleau, a patient with an incurable disease that causes her muscles to become weak, said, “To throw this many patients out on the curb and put their lives in jeopardy, that’s wrong.

Among patients who spoke out on behalf of Millette, Gail Millette, a pharmacist and Terry Millette's sister-in-law, told county supervisors there are more problems with the way SRHS treats people and doctors.

“If they were going to get rid of him, they should have had it better planned so that so many lives were not at stake.”

Supervisors were told people are being forced to go to the emergency room to get their medications.

Patients lined up to tell their personal stories of how Millette went out of his way to help them.

Kimberly Greenway, on behalf of her daughter, a patient of Millette for 20 years, told the board that Millette was her family’s last link to Singing River Hospital, all their other doctors are now at Merit Health. She told a story about how an emergency room doctor made a mistake with her daughter’s care and Millette corrected it.

William Deaton and his wife, Michelle, question why Singing River Health Systems removed Dr. Terry Millette from their practice and worry about what will become of the care for his multiple sclerosis.

She spoke directly to Supervisor Randy Bosarge, when she said:

“He’s honest and a man of integrity. He doesn’t cut corners,” she said of Millette. “Randy, you know me, you built my house. Don’t cut corners (with him). Don’t cut this corner, Randy.”

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