Dr. Michael Stonnington, both a Stone County cattle farmer and an orthopedic surgeon, has received a high honor, indeed, from Forrest General Hospital.
Stonnington was the recent recipient of the Dr. Philip Rogers Leadership Award.
The award recognizes three people annually in the categories of leadership, innovation and mentoring.
Named for Dr. Philip Rogers, a nephrologist with Hattiesburg Clinic who dedicated 32 years of his life to serving the people of South Mississippi as a physician, mentor and humanitarian and Forrest General Hospital’s first nephrologist.
He was known as a kind-hearted, brilliant physician and great medical staff leader. He was greatly admired and respected for his commitment to his patients and the medical field.
“It was shocking, to say the least; I did not expect it,” Stonnington said. “I accepted it on behalf of all the people at Forrest General who work so hard to make this hospital run right.”
The hospital released a statement which read, in part, “Dr. Michael Stonnington has distinguished himself in service to Forrest General Hospital through his medical staff leadership.
“After serving 8 years as President Elect, President and Past President, he requested to serve again in this capacity when the need for experienced leadership was voiced to him, committing to an additional four years of service on the Medical Executive Committee.
“His approach to matters of medical staff governance is direct and unbiased. He is able to develop consensus amongst physicians in difficult discussions and to assist the hospital administration in dealing with difficult areas of physician interaction.
“Dr. Stonnington epitomizes the concept of leadership through his selfless devotion to medical staff issues and the improvement of patient care. He has served tirelessly to develop orthopedic care in the Orthopedic Institute and has been a leader in the development of the orthopedic trauma program.”
He called the award both embarrassing and, at the same time, humbling.
“It’s not hard to lead people who don’t really need to be led,” he said.
In early 2018, Stonnington was inducted into the Forrest General Hospital Doctors Hall of Fame.
While he’s practiced medicine, Stonnington has built a parallel career as a cattle farmer in Stone County, running between 350 and 400 head at his family’s Stonnington Farm.
The farm raises American Grass Fed Association-certified cattle, which it markets to restaurants on the Gulf Coast and in Hattiesburg as well as retail grocery outlets.
“It’s a passion for me,” he said. “I’m really big on the family farm and keeping the family farm an important part of our country.
“People in urban areas really don’t know where their food comes from.”
Stonnington is married to Katie Stonnington and the couple have three adult children.