BY GENA HUFF, Editor
In prelude to the ribbon cutting of the much-awaited Pickens County College and Career Center in Carrollton, a Community Conversation Luncheon was held for over one hundred invited guests and dignitaries. After being welcomed by Tony Junkin of First National Bank and Carrollton Mayor Mickey Walker, Lyle Dease of the Pickens County Baptist Association gave the invocation and a lunch catered by “Blessings” was enjoyed by all.
Speakers from all walks of life and backgrounds, but all with important community involvement, were lined up to give a brief overview and update of community happenings, as seen through their respective involvements and undertakings.
Patti Fuller of the Pickens County Extension Office began the list of speakers by introducing Shawn McDaniel, Chairman of the Board at Pickens County Medical Center (PCMC).
“We do something unique down in PCMC that is not done in any rural hospitals,” McDaniel began. “It used to be done a lot. Our doctors come back and visit our patients at the hospital. So now, if you are admitted to PCMC by your physician, you will have the opportunity to have your physician visit you. You may think, ‘What does that matter?’ But it means a lot. Because they know your medical history and you have a relationship with them.”
McDaniel also mentioned the retirement of long-time and well-loved PCMC surgeon Dr. Jim Gentry. “We greatly appreciate Dr. Gentry. At this time, we are in the approval (process) of a surgeon and that’s a wonderful thing,” he said.
Also mentioned was the hiring of the new President and CEO at PCMC, John O’Neil. “As I want to describe John, and I know he doesn’t like this,” said McDaniel, “he’s the Nick Saban of hospitals. He’s the guy we need for the job. He’s been doing a wonderful job and I want to encourage you to support our hospital, continue to work with us, and to be a part of that. And we will continue to serve and do the best job we possibly can,” he concluded.
Next was Joseph Brown with Alabama Power Company, a vital member of the team for the revitalization of PCMC. Brown joked the one thing he would change about the new center was a bigger parking lot. “I had to park all the way down the block,” he laughed.
Brown mentioned the grant recently received by PCMC to participate in the Delta Regional Community Health Systems Development Program. Only nine rural hospitals in the United States were chosen to receive this grant and PCMC was one of those nine. Brown recognized Gordo Mayor Craig Patterson as being key in the process of a letter-writing campaign which was vital to the medical center’s acceptance in the program.