Editorial: Happy birthday, Hamilton!

Happy birthday, Hamilton Medical Center!

Dalton's hospital -- our hospital, as Bob Chandler, chairman of the Hamilton Medical Center Board of Trustees, calls it -- observed the 100th anniversary of its opening on Wednesday, but the celebration is to continue for a year.

Hamilton Health Care System, of which the hospital is a part, has asked local residents to "celebrate with us all year long" and invites you to visit its social media sites to learn more about the celebration.

There are certain institutions in a community that can help define it, such as a hospital, college, arts guild or a library, and Hamilton Medical Center has certainly played that role here. In addition to being a top five employer (now with some 2,500 employees), Hamilton is known for its charitable and philanthropic endeavors, such as the Love Lights observance each Christmas.

Since 1983, Hamilton Medical Center and the Daily Citizen-News have partnered for Love Lights, when individuals, families and businesses are encouraged to give gifts in honor of or in memory of friends, neighbors, co-workers and loved ones. The money raised goes to benefit the many offerings of the health care system. The emphasis is on "love, kindness and generosity toward others," as Jane Snipes, Whitfield Healthcare Foundation executive director, has said.

And then there is of course the actual healthcare front. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the importance of having a strong medical center in a community, and this community is blessed by the presence of Hamilton Medical Center and the other components of Hamilton Health Care System, including Bradley Wellness Center, retirement and skilled-nursing facilities, the Peeples Cancer Institute and the Anna Shaw Children's Institute.

During the pandemic, Hamilton officials, including Lee Connor, an infectious disease specialist, have provided guidance and counsel to area residents on how best to navigate the treacherous times the pandemic has produced.

And as noted in our story on Hamilton Medical Center in Wednesday's newspaper, Hamilton workers have been on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19 for more than a year, putting their lives and health at risk to help those in their care. Jeff Myers, president and CEO of Hamilton Health Care System, said they have performed heroically.

"During the past year that we have experienced with COVID-19, these people, our associates, have worked under incredibly stressful circumstances," Myers said. "The kind of circumstances most of us can't imagine having to live with, and they have done it with compassion and with love. They came in day after day and took care of their neighbors, friends and family members. That's what makes Hamilton special."

We agree.

One hundred years is a lot of time for anything. But when you think about all the people who have been blessed during those 100 years by the care from Hamilton Medical Center, and then think about all of the people who are responsible for Hamilton Medical Center's provision of care -- from administrators to doctors and nurses to custodial staff to volunteers and others -- it is awe-inspiring.

So we thank all of those Hamilton Medical Center employees and staff who have made such great care possible.

We hope you had the happiest of birthdays, and we look forward to a year of well-deserved celebration.

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