Our History
The legacy of Merit Health Natchez actually began on October 7, 1955 when members of the community appeared before the Board of Supervisors requesting the board adopt a resolution to build a county-owned hospital.
The resolution was unanimously adopted and a certified copy was sent to the Mississippi Commission on Hospital Care. Mrs. R. B. Forman, Chairman of the Natchez Association of Commerce Public Health Committee met with the Board of Supervisors on March 6, 1956.
An application for a grant to build a new 150 bed acute general hospital, to contain an administration area, dietary, laundry, morgue and autopsy, laboratory, x-ray, outpatients, surgery and obstetric suite was executed by the Board. The application requested state funds in the amount of $100,000 and federal funds, provided by the Hill-Burton Act, in the amount of $1,468,000.00. The county would contribute $800,000, bringing the total cost of the hospital to approximately $2.4 million. On April 16, 1960, a dedication ceremony was held on the front grounds of the hospital, with an estimated 10,000 citizens touring the gleaming facility.

Congressman John Bell Williams, who authored the bill that extended the life of the Hill-Burton Act, which made the hospital possible, delivered the dedicatory address and congratulated the people of Natchez and Adams County on constructing such a fine medical institution stating, "This hospital is not being built just for today alone but rather, to serve the generations who are to come.”

The hospital's original name, Jefferson Davis Memorial Hospital, was chosen on June 11, 1957 when a contest was held to name the hospital. Mr. J. Balfour Miller submitted the winning name. The name was changed to Merit Health Natchez in 1993 to reflect the hospital's reputation as a regional medical center.
During the hospital's 50 year history, many renovations and construction projects have occurred, with the largest being a $15 million expansion and renovation in 1994 that nearly doubled the size of the hospital and included a new intensive care and coronary care unit named after Dr. Clifford Tillman. In 1966, Dr. Tillman was instrumental in developing the first Intensive Coronary Care Unit in the State of Mississippi at Jefferson Davis Memorial Hospital.

In 1960, the hospital made its first stride in a long list of "firsts” when it housed the first image intensifiers in the State. These produced great amplification of the fluoroscopic picture, resulting in much better diagnostic detail. The Jeff, as it was affectionately called, was very innovative and also noteworthy was the boundless enthusiasm the hospital family felt for its work. Other firsts in Natchez Regional's history include:

  • First radioactive Cobalt 60 Teletherapy Unit in a Natchez hospital, one of two such units in the entire state used to treat illnesses deep in the body.
  • First Radio Isotope Detection Unit in a Natchez hospital, used primarily in thyroid studies
  • First hospital in the State to offer Dahlberg built in television and radio for its patients
  • First Autopsy Room located in a Natchez hospital, enabling medical specialists to perform medical examinations in the hospital itself where before they were conducted in local funeral homes.
  • First hospital in Natchez and second in the State to purchase a Defibrillator Pacemaker Unit
  • First and only Level II Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Natchez
  • First and only inpatient Senior Behavioral Health Unit in Natchez
  • First and only inpatient Rehabilitation Center in Natchez
  • First and only Cardiac Rehab in Natchez
  • First and only hospital in Natchez to offer 64 Slice low dose CT Scanner
  • First hospital in Natchez to install Picture Archiving and Communications Systems (PACS), allowing physicians to view images from various hospital workstations or their offices.
  • First hospital in Natchez offering digital mammography and bone density
  • First and only hospital in Natchez to provide PET/CT Scan services



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