Friday, June 27, 2014

A message from the CEO for Norman Regional Health Systems: Paying It Forward – Winston Medical Center

A message from the CEO for Norman Regional Health Systems
June 25, 2014
Paying It Forward – Winston Medical Center

As I shared with you in last week's Employee Update, Anne Clouse (NRHS Foundation), Jim Wade (NRHS Foundation Board Member) and I experienced the joy and emotion of delivering your financial gift to the employees of Winston Medical Center in Louisville, Miss. I had no idea of what to expect but I can assure that the experience was incredible. I have never received a grander welcome from total strangers than what we received from the good folks of Louisville. At the same time so many of the emotions that I felt during the loss of our Moore Medical Center came rushing back. I saw the same heart and courage in their staff that you showed during our loss. I have asked Anne and Jim to share their personal thoughts on the significance of our trip.



Anne wrote, "I will never forget the outpouring of support that we received in the days and months following the destruction of the Moore Medical Center. Health systems and hospital foundations from across the country donated more than $400,000 to our Employee CARE Fund to help the 270 employees that were affected by the storms. When David Whitaker learned that the Winston Medical Center suffered the same fate as our Moore Medical Center, he walked into my office and said "It's time to pay it forward." The culture of philanthropy at Norman Regional is very strong. David emailed you, our employees, announcing the Foundation's $20,000 gift and extending the opportunity to you to contribute. You raised $24,000! AND our Auxiliary donated an additional $4,000. Last Wednesday, I had the pleasure of traveling to Louisville, Mississippi to deliver a $48,000 donation to Winston's Employee Care Fund. From the moment we arrived, we were greeted with tears and hugs. We toured their make shift emergency room and visited with each staff member. At the ceremony, the CEO was so overcome with emotion that he had to stop and let David speak. David gave a heartfelt and sincere speech with the key message being "you will move on, you will recover". When David presented the donation to Winston Medical Center's CEO, the crowd cheered loudly and many employees were brought to tears. Afterward, everyone wanted to give us a hug, some wanted to share their personal story, and everyone wanted to thank us. One staff member gave me a hug and, with tears in her eyes, told me "Go back and tell your employees how much this means to us." They each stopped to read your inspirational and encouraging words on the banner we gave them. To help the employees of Winston Medical Center was the right thing to do. It was an amazing and emotional experience, one that I will never forget. It made me so proud to be a part of this Norman Regional family and our "pay it forward" project."

Jim wrote, "As we departed Will Rogers Airport for Louisville, I had no idea what I would see upon arrival or what to expect when we got to the Winston Medical Center. As a life-long Oklahoman, I've seen the devastation of severe weather on many occasions, but the folks of Louisville don't share that same life experience that Oklahomans find all too familiar. As we neared our destination I saw signs of a tornado that were very familiar, broken/uprooted trees, twisted metal, broken glass, empty slabs of concrete, displaced homes - massive disruption to a normal life. The "temporary" Winston Medical Center was set up in the parking lot of an industrial site. With the temporary buildings, some of which were air conditioned tents, I couldn't help but be reminded of television images of a Mash Unit. The staff of the WMC was busy doing what all healthcare professionals do, taking care of others! As we met the staff, I was first taken by their delightful southern accents, but their commitment to serving others, pride in their medical center and dedication to their job was just as familiar as the destruction from the storm. I was reminded of the professionalism demonstrated daily in the Norman Regional Health System. They took time from serving others to greet, welcome and thank us. They even made time to gather together for a presentation of the check from the Norman Regional Health Foundation. They went way out of their way to make this a special presentation. Frankly, I was a little uncomfortable. After all, they were the victims, some working out of temporary facilities, some out of work, some without homes, they definitely didn't need to stop getting their lives back in order and go to this much trouble for us. As David presented the check, the expression of appreciation was loud and the tears of gratitude were sincere and very familiar. (Please don't believe Anne, I didn't tear up.) Afterwards, we had the chance to visit with many of the attendees. Most wanted to tell their story. Many laughed through the circumstances and many cried. Some expressed sadness. But, I saw hope in their spirit and in their eyes. They openly expressed their pride in their neighbors, community and hospital. They WILL rebuild their lives. While I began this journey with uncertainty, the word that resonates in my mind is "familiar". We are all very proud of our "Oklahoma Spirit", but I saw that exact spirit in the folks of Louisville. I'm now convinced that there is an "American Spirit" that resides in every state. I was moved by seeing loving, caring, sincere, committed, and dedicated Americans in Mississippi. It was a great source of pride for me. It reminded me of Home. It was very familiar. You made a difference in American lives that day, but then, that's what the Healthcare Professionals of the Norman Regional Health System do. Thank you for letting me be part of it."