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New Director Shares Vision for University Health Services

Alex Langhartisthe new director of the University of Mississippi Health Services. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

Alex Langhart, the new director of the University of Mississippi Health Services, aims to increase access, promote wellness and find solutions to ensure all faculty, staff and students receive excellent on-campus care.

Langhart received his master’s degree in health services administration from UM in 2015. The Tylertown native, who also has a bachelor’s degree from Ole Miss, said he is happy to be working at his alma mater.

“It’s like coming home,” Langhart said. “It’s wonderful. You ask any grad from Ole Miss what their dream job is, and it’s probably to come back to work at Ole Miss.

“The values and work ethic my family instilled in me have led me to come back to take care of people. I am not a physician, but I want to make sure they have access to and also the means to be taken care of.”

Langhart comes from a family of pharmacists and doctors, including his mother, who is a pharmacist, and his father, who ran the family business, Brumfield’s Drugs in Tylertown. His grandmother was one of the first women to be a pharmacist in that part of the state.

During his undergraduate studies at UM, Langhart decided he would prefer to work on the administrative side of health care instead of in pharmacy or medicine. 

“I was kind of forced into health care in a good way,” he said with a grin. “I didn’t know if that was going to be clinical or the administrative side. While I was in school here, I applied to the graduate program in health care administration. I got accepted and immediately fell in love with it.”

He comes to the university following a nearly four-year stint as director of clinic operations at Greenwood Leflore Hospital in Greenwood.

Continuing to increase access to health care on campus is among his goals. Talks are underway to explore different options to meet space and other demands of the more-than-20,000 student visits the center handles each year, he said.

The existing site is not adequate to receive accreditation because it is too old and small, Langhart said. 

“The administration recognizes that and they are supportive of us figuring that out,” he said. 

Brandi Hephner LaBanc, vice chancellor for student affairs, said she’s been encouraged by Langhart’s patient and thoughtful approach to assess the needs of the campus community and provide a path forward for students, faculty and staff.

“I believe Mr. Langhart’s deep experience in health care administration will be critical as we navigate important decisions about our health center on campus,” Hephner LaBanc said. “He is proving quickly that he is patient, engaging and thoughtful when it comes to change, so I know he will listen and work with key constituents to address the high demand on clinical time and space.”

The plan is to keep the Employee Health Center on the central campus. It isn’t feasible to have workers leave work during the day to travel off campus, he said.

“I believe employee health belongs on the central campus because that’s the point of a worksite clinic,” Langhart said. “The goal is to be able to eliminate the time it takes for you to go to the doctor’s office and return to work.”

He also wants to continue working on access to health care. One approach is to increase the kinds of insurance the clinic accepts without “out of network” charges passed on to students. 

“There are a lot of barriers to health care in general, not just here,” Langhart said. “Right now, Student Health is only ‘in network’ with Blue Cross Blue Shield and Student Aetna. Those who have UnitedHealthcare or Cigna or regular Aetna can still be seen here, but when they file charges, it is ‘out of network’ so there are potentially more out-of-pocket costs.

“We are working on growing our insurance network to reduce costs for patients.” 

He also wants to work on increasing employee wellness efforts in an effort to prevent serious health problems, and to explore the idea that other adult beneficiaries on an employee’s state health insurance plan could also use the health center for care. 

Langhart is married to Maura Wakefield Langhart, director of annual giving for the UM Office of Development and an Ole Miss alumna. The couple have two chocolate Labrador retrievers named Maverick and Goose. 

Dr. Travis Yates, who retired as director of University Health Services but still works as a staff physician, said Langhart’s background in health care administration is a welcome and needed an addition to University Health Services.

“He is focused on implementing steps to improve access to care and expand our services,” Yates said. “I’ve spent my 35-year career providing health care in either a primary care or emergency care setting.

“Alex brings additional experience to manage the rapidly changing insurance and administrative challenges in health care today. I welcome and appreciate his expertise.”

By Michael Newsom

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