South Mississippi State Hospital
823 Highway 589, Purvis, Mississippi
601-794-0100 • (601) 794-0210 (FAX)
Respect • Compassion • Professionalism • Education • Teamwork • Trust • Communication
Current News
If you are a member of the media and would like additional photographs or to go with any of these articles, need a source for something you are working on, or would like an interview, please contact Donna Simmons at 601-794-0219 or via e-mail at

Karl Hess, new Risk Management Director at SMSH

PURVIS, Miss. (January 28, 2014) --  Karl Hess, RN, completed the Mississippi Personnel Board’s Basic Supervisory Course on January 27.

The Basic Supervisory Course (BSC) is a training course designed to provide information and skill development to supervisors on the fundamentals of supervising people and programs in government. Planned to meet the needs of new supervisors, supervisors new to government, and experienced supervisors who have not yet had the opportunity to take advantage of this type of course, the program presents basic management theory, emphasizing practical application of these principles in public sector environments. BSC provides an orientation to managing in government through a broad array of lecture, group activities, and individual and small-group interactions.

Hess returned to SMSH as the Director of Risk Management and Security on September 16, 2013. He originally came to SMSH as an RN in May 2006.  He left SMSH in October 2012 and went to work on the inpatient psychiatric unit at the Veterans Administration in Biloxi for a brief period.

Hess holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Mississippi State University and an Associates degree in Nursing from Pearl River Community College.

He is a resident of Pearl River County and a member of St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church. In his spare time, Hess enjoys fishing, following favorite sports teams, and spending time with family and friends.

South Mississippi State Hospital names LaWanda Gregg Employee of the Quarter

PURVIS, Miss. (January 14, 2014) --  LaWanda Gregg was recently named South Mississippi State Hospital’s Employee of the Quarter for the fourth quarter of 2013.  Gregg, a Forrest County resident, came to SMSH as the administrative assistant to the hospital director in September 2011.

Coworkers describe Gregg as someone who is always willing to help anyone in any department with anything they need, whether it be helping a doctor with something or assisting with landscaping.  She has obtained CPR instructor certification and teaches First Aid as well as holds groups with patients, both of which are well outside required duties for the position she holds.

“LaWanda is an exceptional person, and I am grateful for the work she does for me and for the hospital,” said Clint Ashley, SMSH Director. “She is extremely versatile, trustworthy, detail oriented, and has the best interest of our patients at heart.”

Prior to employment at SMSH, Gregg worked at Magnolia State Bank and Trustmark National Bank.

“I enjoy that I have multiple job duties,” said Gregg.  “It keeps me from doing the same thing every day, and I love the people I work with.

“I’m very grateful to be a part of an organization that helps change lives for the better. At the end of the day, the main focus is quality care for our patients.”

 In her spare time, Gregg enjoys gardening, bowling, reading and cooking for family and friends. She is a native of Jones County, where she attended R.H. Watkins High School and Jones County Junior College.

Mississippi Department of Mental Health honors Hattiesburg resident

PURVIS, Miss. (November 5, 2013)  John Blanks, of Hattiesburg, was recently awarded the James C. Stubbs Volunteer Award by the Mississippi Department of Mental Health at the annual Mental Health/Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Joint Conference.

Blanks was nominated for the award by South Mississippi State Hospital, where he has served on the Board of Directors for the hospital’s Friends organization for many years.  He has served four terms as president and several terms as vice-president.  Blanks and his wife, Babs, are very strong advocates in the community for mental health and for South Mississippi State Hospital and its mission.  They network with friends and at their church to make sure the donated clothing closets at SMSH are stocked with seasonal items when there is need and always ask if there is anything else they can do.

The James C. Stubbs Volunteer Award honors a person who has demonstrated a continuing interest and effort in providing volunteer and advocacy services to citizens of Mississippi with mental health needs and/or Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.  The award is named in memory of James “Jimmy” Carlton Stubbs, whose career in mental health began in 1950, when he served as staff assistant for the Board of Trustees of Mental Institutions, the state’s predecessor to the Mississippi Department of Mental Health.

Blanks holds a Master of Education degree in Counseling from Delta State University.  He is involved with several organizations that help individuals who are disadvantaged.  Blanks’ first involvement with the Mental Health Association was in Washington County in 1977.  The work he did there inspired him to return to college to get his Master’s degree and work as a mental health professional at East Mississippi State Hospital and with a private hospital, both in Meridian.  Blanks moved to Hattiesburg in 1984 and re-started the then-defunct Mental Health Association.  He remains a volunteer with the Mental Health Association of the Pinebelt, having served in several officer positions, including president and treasurer. 

“John can always be counted on when there is a need,” said Donna Simmons, SMSH Public Relations Director.  “He always has the best interest of the mentally ill at heart.”

In accepting the Stubbs Award, Blanks called his wife, Babs Faulk, to the podium to share in the honor, saying that she is his “other half” in volunteer efforts, whether on the scene or behind the scenes. The two can often be found helping out at a soup kitchen or performing some type of community service to help the less fortunate. 

“This couple is truly a blessing to SMSH and to this community,” said Simmons.