50 years of caring
Red Bay Hospital celebrates half a century in community
“Hospitals are more than bricks and mortar. Hospitals are the about the people, about the relationships. Hospitals are about trust and love and sharing the love and talents with each other.”
Those were the special thoughts Red Bay Hospital administrator Glen Jones shared as he opened the hospital’s 50th anniversary/birthday celebration Sunday. In conjunction with the milestone event, Red Bay Garden Club combined its Arbor Day celebration with the occasion and honored Red Bay Hospital as its tree recipient for 2017.
Under a tent on the front lawn, community members and hospital employees gathered despite a persistent rainfall to commemorate the hospital’s history.
“We want to also honor and celebrate those who are helping us grow for the future,” Jones added. “I am so very impressed with the citizens of Red Bay. Regardless of what challenges or opportunities are put before you, this town comes together and works as a family.”
Following the Pledge of Allegiance led by Lee Alan Page and the National Anthem by Jarod Massey, Rosalyn Fabianke introduced the ceremony and speakers, and she presented the tree to be dedicated to all past and present hospital employees.
Former Red Bay News publisher LaVale Mills shared about the history of Arbor Day. “Arbor Day … to me has a personal significance because it was a newspaper publisher who is responsible for us having this holiday,” Mills said, going on to detail J. Sterling Morton’s efforts to plant trees, with Arbor Day being established in 1872. “He used the newspaper as a forum to get people interested in planting trees.” Arbor Day is special, Mills said, because it is an observance that “reflects on the future. We plant trees, and they’re going to give us a shade and do all these wonderful things for us in the future. What a wonderful example, to tie Red Bay Hospital in with that.”
Red Bay Tree Commission Chairman Scotty Kennedy spoke on tree planting efforts in Red Bay, particularly sharing his own memory of being a young Scout and helping plant trees at the soon-to-open hospital 50 years ago. “For years I’ve told of the benefits of trees, including having trees in places of healing, like the hospital,” Kennedy said. “Studies have shown patients with views of trees out their windows heal faster and with less complications.” Kennedy compared the hospital employees to different varieties of trees, all having different jobs, and explained that as a forest can sometimes struggle to remain viable, so too has the hospital over the years, although it has prevailed despite all challenges. “In the 1980s and 1980s, many rural hospitals closed their doors, and Red Bay struggled. With the help of community and especially the administration, the hospital was able to keep its doors open. There were lean times … but the hospital survived.”
Other speakers sharing their own commendations for the auspicious day included Dr. Raynard Fabianke, Mayor Charlene Fancher, Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow, Alabama Hospital Association representative Jane Knight, Huntsville Hospital System representative Paul Storey and first hospital administrator Bill Crutchfield, who shared many anecdotes from the early years of Red Bay Hospital, including an early success despite a rocky start.
“On Thursday of the first week, one of the nurses came and said, ‘Dr. McMurray would like to see you down in his room.’ He was a retired veterinarian who had come back to Red Bay,” Crutchfield said. “Walking down through there, my thoughts were, ‘Did we do something wrong? What did we do?’ But I walked in, and Dr. McMurray said, ‘I came down here expecting everybody to be running around like a chicken with his head cut off, but it’s just like you’ve always been open.’ He had a check in his hand, and he said, ‘You take this and cash it, and you buy candy for every employee here.’”
Morrow presented a House resolution in honor of the occasion.
An original poem, “The Hospital Tree,” was read by Jean Marie Katrina Moore, written by her grandmother Katrine Moore, after which several of the speakers and representatives were invited to shovel a ceremonial spade-full of dirt around the new tree.
“Today as we celebrate the 50 years of healing and 50 years of caring, Red Bay Hospital employees have greatly imprinted all of our lives,” Rosalyn Fabianke said. “We are reminded of your many caring and unselfish contributions to our hospital and the patients you serve. This will be reflected in your tree … You as employees have created a legacy that will always leave an indelible impression and example for all.
“As we dedicate this tree, we’re dedicating a blue juniper evergreen. This is the first evergreen we have ever planted on Arbor Day. It’s beautiful. The hospital wanted something that would stay green all year long.” Fabianke explained that the tree mirrors hospital employees in many ways, in that it will endure much, see many years and give joy to all.
A prayer of dedication was offered by First Baptist Church pastor Bill Harper to close the ceremony, and a reception/birthday celebration followed.