On May 1st, 1955, Smith-Chitwood Hospital opened under the direction of Dr. John R. Smith and Dr. CC Chitwood.
That same hometown hospital is still thriving today, but not many of us have taken time to ponder over the challenges that have been confronted, the experiences encountered, and the stories that come with these opportunities to change people’s lives and be sometimes changed in the course of doing so.
The original hospital administrator was Baxter Cothron. He was followed by Eugene Cook, Johnny Brewer, Hardy Ledbetter, Roy Wright, John Link, and the current administrator Dennis Wolford.
While the administrator is the captain of the ship, his co-captains contribute to the success of the facility. If the facility administrator is absent, the Chief Nursing Officer will usually be responsible for operations.
Chief Nursing Officer, or CNO, is the title given to the nurse who performs a supervisory role for an entire nursing department, which would most often be found in a hospital. A CNO is required to interact with doctors, patients, families and other nurses, making the position one of the most important in the field of nursing.
The job duties of a Chief Nursing Officer are all encompassing. One of the duties is to monitor compliance of applicable laws and regulations and maintain standards of care which are outlined by the state. Other important duties are compiling statistics, preparing reports and maintain patients' medical records.
With such a full plate of duties, the Chief Nursing Officer is also responsible for the leadership of other nurses. Nursing and caring—the two words go hand in hand.
Hassie Raby, affectionately known as Ma Raby, was the first Chief of Nursing, leading her flock of nurses through, the delivery of babies, surgeries, and the day to day care of patients. When Ma reached retirement age, she handed the reins to her well trained daughter Margaret Ann Farrell. Ms. Farrell's successor was Jerry Harper, a young nurse hand picked by Dr. Chitwood. She remembers the small hospital and duties that included boiling syringes, washing gloves, drying and powdering them and sterilizing practically everything, considering nothing was disposable like it is today.
Jerry Harper was CNO at the time another young nurse was considering making the move to Macon County . Barbara Solomon and her husband were planning to move to area and grow tobacco and cattle. Harper and Barbara were friends and visited on the phone. Solomon sent Jerry a resume and she was hired before even moving to Macon County . Solomon said, “Jerry is a true friend and very special to me.”
Harper was followed by Eva Craig. Ms. Craig was abruptly dismissed and the hospital keys were given to Barbara Solomon who remains at the helm today. "They just handed me the keys and said you’re in charge" she said. "A little while later I was officially given the position where I have seen many changes. During the first six months on the job, practically everything was moved, revamped, and JACHO was officially put in place. Dr. Chitwood was very active with the medical staff and the hospital grew."
"I've seen the ER grow to six beds, I've seen all licensed nurses certified with specialized training, I've seen the facility meet national patient safety goals and complete successful surveys with the approval of JACHO. One of the biggest changes and biggest sorrows was the closing of the OB department." Solomon confessed.
Each of us has at least once in our lifetime come into contact with nurses of all backgrounds, whether in the course of being cared for or while they care for our family and friends. More often than not, we have seen nurses as what they truly are: compassionate professionals who often go above and beyond the call of duty in an unequivocally selfless manner. The nurses at Macon County General are all a result of the leadership of Solomon.
Solomon said, "I have had the pleasure of working with some good people, Teresa Deering, Eller Sircy, Kim Breeding, Jerry Thompson, Joy Peterson, we have all had an extraordinary journey. These people made me the nurse I am. Our current administrator, Mr. Wolford and the governing board have been extremely supportative of the nursing administration and the staff that provides it.”
“We all work together in good times and bad. The devastating tornado brought in many victims, and our staff was here to care for them.”
Nurses like to fix things.
The drama, the sardonic humor, the grinding workload, the cheerful camaraderie, the big issues and the small, all are in a days work.