Ground-breaking HealthBreak celebrates 1,500th program

Dr. Thomas Dobbs of South Central Medical Center with Chalayne Sayes, president of MBC Marketing in Nashville, which produces HealthBreak segments on WDAM. She presented the hospital with a Tiffany apple. (Photo by Mark Thornton)

Chalayne Sayes of MBC Media in Nashville called South Central Regional Medical Center a pioneer in bringing medical matters to the public while she was in Laurel for a special presentation to commemorate the airing of the hospital’s 1,500th HealthBreak series since 1989.

She credited SCRMC’s Linda Gavin, vice president of marketing and business development, for being the first hospital executive to sign on to the concept that was presented by MBC founder Madelyn Bennett Casey. Gavin had only been at the hospital for six months when the two talked about it.

“Gavin saw the benefits of the program and signed a one-year agreement to produce and air the show on WDAM, and the rest is history,” Sayes said.

And now, 28 years later, the two-minute weekly segment is show on TV, the hospital’s website and shared on Facebook.

“I will never forget sitting down with members of our hospital medical staff to show them the prototype for HeathBreak in 1989,” Gavin recalled. “They said they would not participate in the program because it was ‘advertising’ and physicians did not promote their services. I know it”s hard to believe that today, because our airways are flooded with health information, but they were right.

“In 1989, there was not another program of this type on television in Mississippi or many other states around the country. I knew if the program was done right, lives could be saved.”

Gavin continued to pitch the program, and ophthalmologist Dr. Eric Lindstrom finally agreed to participate.

“After seeing the professional nature of the segment when it aired on WDAM in 1989, other members of Laurel’s medical community quickly signed on, and today, we get calls from our health-care providers or other medical personnel when they have a topic they want to discuss,” Gavin said. “New physicians and new health-care services are also featured on the program so the community is fully informed about health-care services available in our community.”

SCRMC was MBC’s first hospital client 28 years ago, and now, it has 90 from California to Florida. The film crew comes to Laurel and films up to 17 segments over two half-days every 10 weeks or so. “The team at South Central is a well-oiled machine,” Sayes said.

Dr. Thomas Dobbs, SCRMC’s chief quality officer, said the goal is to reach as many potential patients as possible.

“Early intervention is the key to saving lives,” he said. “The more we can teach our community about signs and symptoms of disease, the quicker individuals can seek help.”

Sayes added, “We are blessed to have great health-care providers, great employees, progressive leadership and a progressive Board of Trustees at South Central who understand the importance of keeping our community healthy. A community hospital has a much larger responsibility to the community than the services they provide every day.”

SCRMC does that with free health fairs, health-related luncheons, the largest women’s conference in the state and other promotions throughout the year.

Sayes noted the significance of a 28-year run in the world of television, pointing out that a BBC show called “Casualty” that’s been airing since 1986 has been on the longest.

“South Central was our first client, and since that time, large medical centers and health systems across the country have worked to develop HealthBreak in their market,” she said. “South Central Regional Medical Center is a progressive health system. It has grown by leaps and bounds since we first started working with them, and I have been amazed by all of the growth, the new technology and the quality of physicians in Laurel today.”

The organization has more than 2,000 employees and is one of the largest employers in the region, Sayes added. “They continue to lead the way in community health and we look forward to working with them for many years to come.”

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