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Home News-Telegram News 60 Years of Caring:Hopkins County Memorial Hospital Celebrates A Memorable Milestone

60 Years of Caring:Hopkins County Memorial Hospital Celebrates A Memorable Milestone

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A crowd of about 200 people gathered Thursday at the entrance of Hopkins County Memorial Hospital to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the opening of the medical center, which began operations in September of 1949.

W.T. Allison II, chairman of the 60th Anniversary Committee and a former member of the HCMH board of directors, reminded those in attendance of the vital role the hospital has played in the daily lives of its citizens.

“This is something we have to build on for our citizens to provide health care,” Allison said. “That’s what the board of directors has done, that’s what the employees have done, and that’s what the general public has done in supporting this.”

He recalled that the hospital was originally located on North Davis Street where the city’s public library now stands and cost $250,000 to construct, equip and furnish.

“$250,000 was a big step for this community, especially when you think about that there was no industry — nothing like we have now,” he said. “But that board of directors had the faith, and this community and the citizens, to pass the bond issue to build the hospital.”

Tim Kelty, a member of the Hopkins County Memorial Hospital Board of Directors, perhaps said it best when he pointed out that 98 percent of the people at the reception likely had some life connection to HCMH.

“It may have been a birth, it may have been a death, it may have been a healing process,” he said. “The point is, we’re not just celebrating 60 years for Hopkins County Memorial Hospital — we’re celebrating a 60-year anniversary for our community. And you are part of that.”

That’s hard to argue with, because Memorial Hospital is so important to Sulphur Springs in so many ways. It is the place people turn to in sickness and health, in both the most grave and joyous times of their lives. It is a major economic force in the region, employing more than 500 people directly and countless numbers more indirectly. And it has been a reason for the people of the community to come together on so many occasions, whether for an election, to raise money for a community purpose, to prepare for emergencies, for whatever reason.

Allison also underlined the tremendous growth the hospital has undergone.

When it opened, “We had 50 employees, and it was not air conditioned,” he said. “You could get a private room for an extra $3, and you could rent a fan.”

There were also only 11 physicians and four dentists listed on the original medical staff.

“We now have over 500 employees,” he said. “We have over 40 doctors. We have more than 80 consultants, and all of their staffs that came here on a regular basis. If you can think of just the economic impact that this facility has on Sulphur Springs, it is incredible.

“And the good news,” he added with a grin, “is the board of directors hasn’t raised your taxes in at least six or seven years.”

“You deserve this,” said State Rep. Mark Homer. “You’ve worked for it. You deserve to have those services here available to you so that you don’t have to go to Dallas or Houston or Tyler.”

But it doesn’t matter whether the hospital is a single-story, cream-colored brick structure on North Davis Street, or a multi-level glass and steel building on Airport Road — it is the people behind it all that have made Memorial Hospital so, well, memorable.

“We have had people who have had vision,” said Kelty. “We’ve seen all these people who have worked so diligently — our administrators, our doctors, our nurses, our board of trustees, our volunteers. We’ve just absolutely had a fantastic run.”

HCMH Chaplain Michael Moore opened the 60th anniversary with a prayer that could fittingly serve as the final word.

“May the doors of this hospital, and the doors of our hearts, be wide enough to receive all who need care and the fellowship of human love, but let the doors be narrow enough to shut out all forms of indifference, neglect and hatred. Make the threshold smooth enough to be no stumbling block to those who are poor, neglected or alone, but welcoming to all who need health care.

“It is only as a team that we may carry out the challenging and important task set before us.”

 

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