When the leadership team at North Yalobusha Hospice & Palliative Care was seeking to relocate its corporate office from Oakland, Miss. (Yalobusha County), it could have chosen any county or city in the state.
The expanding company, which offers much more than end-of-life care to its clientele, chose Indianola for its corporate office to continue its mission of “Caring With Compassion.”
North Yalobusha CEO Josephine Bell and Board of Directors Chairman Dr. Adrian L. Brown, Ph.D. said they chose Indianola mainly because they both have deep Delta roots and because of the city’s vicinity to U.S. 49 and U.S. 82.
Bell is a native of Isola, just across the line in Humphreys County, and Brown has spent most of his life in Indianola.
Many people are inquisitive of the name “North Yalobusha” Brown said. “I get questions all the time concerning where did the name come from and how do you pronounce it.”
The name comes from Yalobusha County where the company was originally founded. “Yalobusha is a Native Amercan word meaning ‘tadpole place.’”
Yalobusha County was settled by the Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians, Brown said.
“Our roots come from the Delta, and our roots come from this area,” Bell said. “We decided to move our office back home to be beneficial to the people we know and love in the Delta.”
For Brown, the move “makes perfect business sense.”
With just over one year under their belt in Indianola, Brown and Bell told The E-T recently that the company is currently in an aggressive growth stage, which will include an uptick in acquisitions, services, employees and even more office space in the city and beyond.
North Yalobusha was founded in Oakland, Miss., and there are currently four offices across the state aside from the corporate office here in Sunflower County.
With an already busy first year under its belt, Brown said North Yalobusha’s best days are ahead.
“We have a lot of things on the table and right now we are in a growth stage,” Brown said. “We are looking for qualified, capable and competent people that want to join a winning team. We have employment opportunities at the professional and paraprofessional levels.”
Brown estimates North Yalobusha currently employs over 30 individuals across the state of Mississippi. When all is said and done, he said that number could make up the corporate office in Indianola alone, and the company could employ hundreds of people across the state
Now located at 128 Main Street, Brown said North Yalobusha has plans to expand its corporate headquarters to accommodate the growth the agency is experiencing.
Already with a full slate of health care services provided, including hospice care services, palliative care services, personal care services, respite care services, homemaker services, and non-emergency transportation services, Brown said North Yalobusha has other expansion plans too in several other health care arenas to ensure that the continuum of care and level of quality care is maintained for the many clients that are serviced.
Brown said that while strengthening the services in the Mississippi Delta region and across the state of Mississippi is the goal right now, North Yalobusha plans to one day expand into Texas, Louisiana and Tennessee markets.
The Board of Directors will make the decision based on growth and future projections.
For now, North Yalobusha will continue to play to its strengths, which is based on the agency’s motto “Caring With Compassion” through its hospice and palliative care services, two areas Bell has focused on for the better part of two decades.
Brown also has over a decade of health care administration experience.
Brown also added that the agency has a partnering organization named North Yalobusha Charities, Inc. which is a 501c 3 not-for-profit organization.
The charitable entity of the North Yalobusha “brand” is organized to provide community-based services such as scholarships to graduating high school seniors who aspire to continue their education.
In addition, North Yalobusha Charities assists indigent clients and families who may be experiencing financial hardships.
Lastly, the nonprofit has plans to develop affordable and low-income housing for the elderly and disabled, single parent families, as well as middle class families who are first-time homebuyers.
Brown, who has a master’s degree in Community Development and a Ph.D. in Planning & Development with a specialization in Community Development and Housing says he will utilize his two decades of community development experience to continue to help people help themselves.
Filling Needs in the Delta
Health care shortages are nothing new in the Delta.
Access to care is one of the main issues for many residents in the region, but families can face similar challenges in gaining access to end-of-life care and palliative care.
“The area is rural, and a lot of people here have limited access to health care,” Bell, who runs the Indianola office of North Yalobusha said.
Bell said it’s not just in end-of-life and comfort care where North Yalobusha is making a difference in people’s lives. “Our goal is to make the transition process easier and as comfortable as possible for clients and their families.”
“We have made a tremendous impact with our transportation company, taking people to and from dialysis, getting blood transfusions, chemotherapy, radiation, surgeries - you name it,” Bell said.
Brown said that North Yalobusha now has its medical transportation fleet that will provide non-emergency transportation services in all 82 Mississippi counties. In fact, Brown said that the non-emergency transportation services have taken them to Tennessee, Alabama and Arkansas. “We also have had requests to take members to North Dakota,” stated Brown.
Currently the company offers hospice care services and palliative care services in 18 Mississippi Delta counties.
Bell said that it has meant a lot to her to return to her home and serve some of the people she grew up with.
“People that I know and love have been placed in our program, and some of those people have died in our program, and it’s a comfort to know that these people are getting the service that they deserve in their home and that they’re dying with dignity and pride,” Bell said.
Bell said that hospice is more than just providing the patient with comfort and as little pain as possible at the end of their life.
“It’s important for us to get into the home as soon as possible,” Bell said, “A lot of things are overlooked. It’s not just about the patient and making sure the patient is pain free. That’s the easiest part. It’s about people having their living wills and wishes met. It’s about the patient’s last wishes, determining who will take over their home or who will be guardian of their kids.”
Bell said the company has dealt with pediatric patients as well as the elderly.
Another important aspect of North Yalobusha is the faith Bell shares with her patients.
While she said the company respects everyone’s individual beliefs, North Yalobusha is a faith-based organization, and she said the agency’s chaplains have facilitated bedside baptisms and last rites.
“The one thing the person always asks is, ‘Can I have forgiveness?’ We do believe we can be forgiven for any sins that have been committed.”
The agency’s chaplains play an integral part of facilitating the faith-based aspect based on a client’s individual beliefs and desires.
Another key service is the palliative care side.
While they often overlap, Bell said a patient does not need to be on hospice to receive palliative care services.
“You don’t have to be on hospice to have palliative care,” she said. “You can be going through chemotherapy, radiation or just having surgery and come home and need palliative care. It just means having comfort and pain management. You have many people that are on pain medication that need pain management for arthritis, or back problems, or problems with various orthopedic areas of the body. Our medical directors strive to meet the needs of the clients based on local, state, and federal rules and regulations.”
With decades of experience at the helm from the management team and patient care team, North Yalobusha show no signs of slowing down, and the company could become a major player in the state’s health care arena in the years to come.
“We thank all residents that have been supportive in the agency’s short-term and long-term efforts,” Brown said. “Without the people and local support, it is impossible to be successful. I truly believe that success starts at the grassroots level and not from the top down.”
Brown added, “The Mississippi Delta and state of Mississippi will always be our home. We are truly humbled and thankful for the assistance from our clients and their families, as well as to all that have provided us assistance at the local, state, and federal levels. We want the citizens of Sunflower County to know that we are local and approachable, but most importantly, we understand the complex nature of the Delta and state of Mississippi, along with the many barriers that families face every day. Every citizen has the right to choose what health care provider they would like to provide services to them, or to their loved ones. It is always the patient’s choice. We want the residents locally and in the state of Mississippi to know that North Yalobusha is licensed to provide hospice care services, palliative care services, personal care services, respite care services, homemaker services, and non-emergency transportation services.”