Altmiller bids NMMC-Tupelo farewell

By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – When Steve Altmiller waves goodbye to North Mississippi Medical Center-Tupelo on July 15, he’ll leave a legacy of quiet leadership.
“Steve just embodies the servant leadership philosophy,” said Dr. Lee Greer, Tupelo geriatrician who serves as the North Mississippi Health Services chief quality and safety officer. “He creates a culture where people can be successful.”
Altmiller is leaving NMMC-Tupelo to take over the three-hospital Good Shepherd Health System based in Longview, Texas. The move will put him closer to his daughter’s family in the Houston area, including grandchildren Logan and Sadie.
His four years in Tupelo have been rewarding, Altmiller said. He’s proud to have been part of the 6,000-strong team that brought the National Baldrige Quality Award home for North Mississippi Health Services.
“There are so many good people here,” said Altmiller, who sees his role as a facilitator – bringing people together, communicating opportunities and keeping NMMC’s core values at the forefront.
Altmiller lights up when he talks about the projects teams of physicians, staff and system partners have put together, like the creation of the hybrid operating room and programs to improve continuity of care in and out of the hospital.
“I didn’t do those things,” Altmiller said. “They made them happen.”
But Altmiller’s support has set the tone, paving the way for success in projects like CUSP, an in-depth unit-specific safety program, Greer said. During the process, the intensive care unit staff made the case that an expensive piece of equipment would significantly impact patient safety, Greer said. Altmiller really listened and found ways to make it happen.
“That echoed throughout the whole unit,” Greer said.
NMMC-Tupelo can take these quality improvement projects because there’s a legacy of commitment to quality embedded in the hospital, Altmiller said.
“It’s all built on a really high functioning organization,” he said.
From Altmiller’s perspective, the strength of the hospital lies in its ties to a strong network of community hospitals and clinics, great physicians, a highly engaged staff and a strong, grassroots community board.
“That’s probably a good formula for success anywhere,” Altmiller said.

Beyond the hospital

One of the things Altmiller really appreciated about NMMC employees and physicians is that their sense of service doesn’t end at the hospital or clinic doors.
“They are so involved in the community,” Altmiller said.
Altmiller followed their example, serving with the Community Development Foundation, including two years on its executive board. It’s an experience he really enjoyed.
“That’s just a progressive, innovative group,” Altmiller said.
Altmiller was an invaluable part of the CDF team, said CDF president and chief executive officer David Rumbarger.
“He was a fantastic resource for us,” helping to illuminate medical issues that effected the wider business community, Rumbarger said. “He’s soft-spoken, but when he talked, you listened.”
There have been no announcements yet on how NMMC-Tupelo will select Altmiller’s successor.
“He’s going to be missed,” Greer said. “The organization is better because he was here.”