Submitted by Barb McKown

At the 2007 Primary Care Conference in August, the Outstanding Service Award was presented to Mrs. Barbara Lay, Chief Executive Officer at Minnie Hamilton Health System. The following excerpt was used during the award presentation and was written by Steve Whited, Chief Operations Officer.

Barbara (pictured right) started with Minnie Hamilton Health Care Center is April 1995. With her background in banking she was exactly what MHHCC needed. She started with 13 employees. With such a small staff, if one person called off sick, the rest picked up their job duties. I have seen Barbara sweep, mop, take out trash and even clean the toilets when the janitor was off on vacation. With much dedication, hard work and sleepless nights, she recruited new physicians and the clinic was functioning full speed.

In 1995, the Board of Calhoun General Hospital approached MHHCC Board of Directors to move into the hospital. Calhoun General Hospital was nearing closure with a chain and pad lock on the door. When a 52-year old woman died in the Foodland grocery store parking lot, Barbara knew what had to be done for the well-being of our community. In January 1996, MHHCC took a "leap of faith" and moved into the hospital building.

Barb walked the dark halls of the hospital and I could see the determination on her face. This was going to succeed for the people of Calhoun and surrounding counties and to provide much-needed employment. As Calhoun General terminated their employees, Barb was hiring them back. Today we have 224 employees.

In 1996, Barb saw the need for our children to have access to health care. She moved to open a School Based Health Center in Calhoun County Middle/High School. Since then, the centers have expanded into both elementary schools and Gilmer County High School. In 1997, Gilmer Health Services asked MHHCC to take over a management contract.

After one year, the Board voted to have their health services become part of MHHCC. Again, Barb saw what Gilmer County needed and stepped up to the plate and began expanding services. Currently, our Glenville location offers laboratory, x-ray, physical therapy, pediatrics and regular clinic hours.

In 2006, the MHHCC Board of Directors voted to change our name to Minnie Hamilton Health System to recognize our ever-expanding system of care. During her twelve years at MHHS, Barb has created a vast network of services for Calhoun and surrounding counties. Some of the additions she has spearheaded include: Critical Care Transport Ambulance Service; CT Scan; Day Care; Dental Services; Emergency Room, 24 hour coverage; Acute Care; Swing Bed; 24-bed Long Term Care Unit; Out-patient lab and x-ray; Physical Therapy; School Based Health Centers (2 counties); Sleep Clinic; Wellness Center.

"I feel the county has truly been blessed to have a person like Barbara Lay to lead our hospital so that we may have a health care facility like MHHS in Calhoun County. " The staff and residents at Minnie Hamilton Health System would like to congratulate Barbara Lay for her Outstanding Service Award.