By Johnny Jackson
A week's worth of tributes to the area's health care providers concludes today.
The annual week-long celebration - now known as the National Hospital Association's National Hospital Week - began on May 12, 1921, and has since grown into one of the nation's largest health care event.
"The purpose of it is to recognize and show appreciation to hospital employees across the country," said Charles Scott, president and chief executive officer at Henry Medical Center in Stockbridge.
The 2008 National Hospital Week, May 11-17, paid homage to members of the health care system with the slogan, "Where Healing Happens Everyday." The theme highlighted the role of hospitals within the community and the work that people therein do for the communities they serve.
A barbecue dinner was the culminating tribute to some 1,550 employees at the Henry Medical Center on Thursday. Shane's Rib Shack provided hospital employees with a barbecue lunch, dinner, and a late-night meal.
"We had managers, directors, and members of the administration, including myself, serve the employees," Scott said. "We used that as an occasion to recognize them and thank them."
The medical center is the county's largest health care provider and among its top three employers.
"We have a large number of different types of positions in the hospitals," Scott said. "There's a large number and quite a variety of personnel in the hospital.
"Some are full time, some are part time, and some are as-needed employees," he added, "But every single employee in the hospital and every single category in the hospital is extremely important for the success of the hospital."
He said the hospital also plays a pivotal role in attracting commerce to the area, as evident through the sponsors of the hospital's week-long celebration - Bank of America, Lincoln, Georgia Federal Credit Union, and Cintas.
"Henry Medical Center is a major component and a major element of the economic sector of Henry County," Scott said. "We generate a large amount of business for the community."
At Southern Regional Hospital in Riverdale, employees were treated to a Thursday picnic. The hospital also held a "Legends Luncheon," which honored 10 employees and two physicians at the hospital. The week prior, the hospital honored seven nurses with the Nurse of the Year Award.
"It's incumbent that we show appreciation to them," said Maria Kulma, Southern Regional vice president of patient care services. "[However,] it wasn't just about what we did for employees, it was about what employees did together."
Hospital employees raised more than $1,300 for the Southern Regional Hospital Foundation this week, through a bake sale.
The employees also raised about as much money, she said, through a silent auction of gift baskets. Some of the funds will go toward a neonatal transport unit at the hospital.
"I think hospital employees have to be, and are, the community of caring," Kulma said. "They're the intersection between the patient, the patient's family, the physician, and hospital administrators. They are recognized for making contributions to the hospital and community."