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2023 Year in Review: Top Stories from HH Health

January 4, 2024 | Reading Time: 5 minutes

Welcome to a recap of the year’s most impactful moments at Huntsville Hospital Health System.

From a milestone aortic valve procedure to strategic alignments to new pups at Canines for Coping, join us as we delve into some of biggest stories that shaped our system in 2023.

Let’s get started!

Madison Hospital robotic surgery team members stand in a robotic surgical suite.

Geared for success

Madison Hospital celebrated the successful launch of its new robotic surgery program. The da Vinci Xi surgery system offers many patient benefits, including smaller incisions, shorter hospital stays and faster recoveries.

“This [was] the culmination of months of planning and hard work by our OR team led by Director of Surgical Services Kate Marquez and Operating Room Manager Eboni Grier,” said Madison Hospital President Mary Lynne Wright. “We are absolutely thrilled that Madison residents can now enjoy the benefits of robotic surgery closer to home.”

Our Structural Heart Team also reached a big milestone this year with the completion of its 1000th Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) procedure.

Heart to heart

Our Structural Heart Team also reached a big milestone this year with the completion of its 1000th Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) procedure. Only a handful of TAVR programs in Alabama and surrounding states have reached the millennial mark.

TAVR is considered a minimally-invasive procedure because a new heart valve can be inserted via catheter without removing the old, diseased valve or opening the patient’s chest.

Huntsville Hospital team members pose for a photo with the virtual care nurse on the screen above them.

Enhancing patient care

Huntsville Hospital became the first in the region to begin using licensed virtual care nurses, available 24/7 as an extra set of eyes and ears for in-person bedside caregivers.

Similar to a telemedicine visit, virtual care registered nurses (RNs) can assist with clinical rounding, help with patient education and discharge planning, and more at the request of bedside nurses.

A photo of the exterior of the Huntsville Hospital campus as it stretches from TOC (The Orthopaedic Center).

Stronger together

The HH Health family was excited to welcome The Orthopaedic Center (TOC) and Huntsville Emergency Medical Services Inc. (HEMSI) (effective Jan. 1, 2024).

These strategic alignments strengthen already well-established health care partnerships and benefit even more patients by allowing HH Health to expand its services across our region.

HH Health has a new website to stay connected

Staying connected

This year brought more changes, including a brand-new HH Health System website! On, you can connect with our top-notch health care professionals across North Alabama and southern Tennessee and uncover the latest health tips – all thoughtfully curated with you in mind.

The site includes an easy-to-use location finder to help you pinpoint care close to home. Visitors can also learn about our outstanding services, careers and philanthropy efforts.

Bookmark and stay up-to-date on all things HH Health.

Chef Riley Kirby holds the keys to his new tractor

Celebrating 60 years

Although diamonds are the traditional 60th anniversary gift, Chef Riley Kirby got something a little different after six decades of service to the health system. Kirby, the longest-serving employee in Huntsville Hospital history, received a Kubota tractor to use around his 10-acre farm.

Since becoming a dishwasher in our Food Services department, Riley has evolved into a talented culinary artist, making delicious meals for our patients, visitors and staff. Congrats and thank you for making a difference each day!

TOC pediatric nurse practitioner Elizabeth Schwarze and Mother Baby RN Ashley Noles

Saving lives

We couldn’t be more proud of TOC pediatric nurse practitioner Elizabeth Schwarze and Mother Baby RN Ashley Noles, who jumped into action to help save a police officer who suffered a cardiac arrest while jogging in Madison.

Along with U.S. Rep. and paramedic Dale Strong, the health care heroes used their CPR training to regain the officer’s pulse and get him medical treatment right away at Huntsville Hospital, the region’s only Level 1 trauma center.

If you’re looking for a sign to get CPR certified, this is it! Click here to learn more.

A graduate of the inaugural class of the LPN Launch program is holding a bouquet of flowers and smiling.

Training future nurses

2023 was a great year to be a nurse! In August, the inaugural class of the LPN Launch program graduated and accepted positions within the HH Health system. Through a unique venture, these Licensed Practical Nurses were taught by Drake State Community & Technical College nursing faculty at our Cochran Training Center – and we paid for their tuition, books and other expenses.

If you’ve ever thought about becoming a professional caregiver, LPN Launch could be your ticket to a more rewarding career. Get started today.

Our Canines for Coping program grew this year with the addition of two black labs, Vivian and Apple.

Hot dog!

Our Canines for Coping program grew this year with the addition of Vivian, a loving black lab who provides comfort and cuddles to our hospice and palliative patients and families. We also gained Apple, a super-sweet, petite black lab who serves as the facility dog at Madison Hospital.

Canines for Coping helps patients and families cope with their hospital experience. Our dogs are trained from birth to work in the hospital and are fully prepared for all they will encounter during their daily work.

105 year old Sue Campbell smiles as she reunited with Dr. Rony Najjar

Beating the odds

Our patients are our No. 1 priority at HH Health. That’s why we were elated to tell the amazing story of Sue Campbell, who remains our oldest trauma patient at 105 years and counting.

Sue, who developed a potentially fatal bowel obstruction in 2018, took time this year to thank Huntsville Hospital trauma surgeon Dr. Rony Najjar, who operated on her that night and saved her life.

“Our entire family is just so grateful for Dr. Najjar,” said Glenda Humphrey, Sue’s daughter. “He gave her almost 5 ½ extra years of life, so far, that she has enjoyed to the fullest.”

Staff members of the Huntsville Hospital Fever & Flu Clinic stand in front of the clinic on the last day of business

End of an era

When the HH Fever & Flu Clinic opened on Governors Drive in March 2020, it was one of the only places in North Alabama offering COVID tests. And people came – more than 60,000 over the past three years.

With COVID testing, vaccines and outpatient therapies now widely available, HH Health made the decision this year to close the clinic. We appreciate the brave clinic staff who stepped up to keep our community safe and healthy during that challenging time!