New UMMC Chief Brings Vast Experience to Post

Don Hutson to lead hospitals in Grenada and Lexington

Don Hutson, administrator at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Marion, poses in his office.

Don Hutson is returning to Mississippi to lead UMMC hospitals in Grenada and Lexington.

JACKSON, Miss. – Don Hutson is coming back home – or at least, just a few hours down the road.

The Corinth native and veteran health care administrator has been named chief executive officer of the University of Mississippi Medical Center Grenada and University of Mississippi Medical Center Holmes County in Lexington.

“We are thrilled Don is joining the UMMC family,” said Dr. Charles O’Mara, associate vice chancellor for clinical affairs. “Don is an experienced hospital administrator with deep roots in northern Mississippi. He will be an outstanding addition to the team, and will have a big impact on the organization and the Grenada and Holmes County communities.”

Hutson, director of the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Marion, Illinois, is replacing CEO David Putt, who will retire in June. Hutson will oversee operations at UMMC Holmes County, licensed for 25 beds, and UMMC Grenada, licensed for 156 beds.

“We are deeply grateful to David Putt for doing a superb job establishing the UMMC brand in Grenada, providing strong leadership in Lexington and his 20-plus years of service in the system,” including as CEO of University Hospitals, said Kevin Cook, CEO of University Hospitals and Health System.

In fiscal year 2015, UMMC Grenada had 2,636 adult and pediatric admissions plus 417 in the newborn nursery for a total 3,053 patients admissions. UMMC Grenada also had 30,799 clinic visits. UMMC Holmes County had 462 admissions, 16,010 outpatient visits and 5,717 clinic visits.

“I am honored to join the UMMC team and serve alongside its dedicated professionals to deliver world-class health care to the Grenada and Lexington communities,” Hutson said. He will join the hospitals March 7, assuming his duties after a short transition period.

“On a personal level, (wife) Sandy and I are thrilled to return to Mississippi to be closer to our family in Corinth and in Oxford,” he said. “We know firsthand how much the state of Mississippi has to offer and are eager to re-establish our home there.”

Hutson, who has two children, taught himself to play the guitar after he turned 40 and strummed from time to time at the Marion hospital.

“I’m a big country music fan, and I love to play music,” he told The Southern Illinoisan newspaper in a recent interview. “Sandy and I often are on the porch swing, me with my guitar doing a little front porch picking.”

He shared with the newspaper a story from his days at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Union City, Tennessee.

“I was in one of the wards, and a nurse asked me what I was doing there,” Hutson told the newspaper. “She told me that usually the CEOs don’t visit. I wanted her to know I was not uppity or too good to be there, and that I put my pants on one leg at a time like everybody else.

“She said, ‘Oh, we know you do. We just want to make sure you know you do.’ That has stuck with me.”

Hutson holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Ole Miss and received his Master of Healthcare Administration from Baylor University. He served in the Army from 1985 to 2006, including service in Desert Shield and Desert Storm and retiring as a lieutenant colonel.

Medical Center director of the Marion hospital since 2013, Hutson managed an annual budget in excess of $300 million and led a medium-sized rural health care system including a Health Care Center in Evansville, nine community-based outpatient clinics, and three administrative and clinical annexes.

Hutson was administrator and chief executive officer of Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi in Oxford from 2008 to 2012 and administrator and chief executive officer of the Union City hospital from 2006 to 2008. In 2003-06, he was chief operating officer of Winn Army Community Hospital in Fort Stewart, Ga.

From 2000 to 2003, he served as chief operating officer for the U.S. Army Health Clinic in Tokyo, which provides primary and specialty care for the 12,000 federal health system beneficiaries in greater Tokyo.

“On a professional level, I am eager to be a part of a team of professionals working diligently to enhance the health and well-being of the people of Mississippi,” Hutson said.