NewsPub Notes

Ailing Hospital

An Ailing Hospital

The resignation of Athens Regional Medical Center President and CEO James Thaw last week was precipitated by chronic problems with a new medical information system that was having a bad effect on health care delivery throughout the hospital. But from what we hear from people who know what’s happening at the hospital, the information system was just the tip of the iceberg. We are hearing about shaky finances, low morale, downsized nursing and support services and compromised quality in patient care. We are hearing about federal funding jeopardized, and we can’t help wondering what effect this is all having on the brand-new partnership with the University of Georgia’s Health Sciences Campus.

This is obviously the time for the Athens Health Systems Board of Trustees to act decisively to solve these problems brought about by poor management from the team that the board hired. This is not the time for the board to pretend that all we need is a new CEO. Athens Regional Medical Center is one of our finest institutions, and it has been allowed to deteriorate under poor leadership. Only the united action of the medical staff forced the board’s hand. It remains to be seen how this board can rectify these problems that it has allowed to fester.

The Next Mayor

In his analysis of last week’s mayoral election, my esteemed journalistic colleague, Banner-Herald Editorial Page Editor Jim Thompson, concluded, “One thing we do know after Tuesday, though, is that this community has four years to find someone who might use the mayor’s office to move this community toward a more unified vision of its future. It’s a search, I believe, that is well worth undertaking.” 

I suppose Jim’s implication is that the candidate his paper calls No Relation Denson would not move this community toward a more unified vision. Tim certainly did, however, move this community, to the tune of 40 percent of its votes. Let’s face it: Any search for the next mayor begins with Tim Denson. He and his well organized team showed convincingly their ability to mount an effective campaign with slender resources. They also demonstrated a concern for the issues that fragment our community and a commitment to bringing us together to overcome these obstacles. And they are continuing to work. They were motivated all along to try to figure out ways to make Athens better for everybody, and a lost election does not end that effort.

Tim Denson, meanwhile, was out knocking on doors and talking to the people who usually only show up as statistics. Tim learned a lot about Athens, and Athens learned a lot about Tim. I believe that the search for the next mayor of Athens has been going on for a while and we have already found the most likely candidate. Tim will know a lot more about Athens and its government in four years, and maybe folks will be scared to run against him by then.

Our Friend Harold

For anybody who does not already know, Harold Williams is a local boy who has sung and played saxophone in a lot of bands, but always with The Jesters, the fun band he helped found in high school and which is finally calling it quits after 50 years. Part of the reason the Jesters are hanging up their horns is that Harold tripped in his office at Williams & Guined CPA last fall, hit his head on his filing cabinet and broke his neck, paralyzing him from the neck down. Since then he has been in and out of the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, where his infectious personality has made him friends with all the staff and patients

Right now, the truth is that Harold is not doing well. His weight is down and he is in constant pain, and the doctors are trying to figure out the cause. The good news is that Harold is back at Shepherd, where he can get the care he needs. So, all you card writers, send Harold a remembrance at Room 420, Shepherd Center, 2020 Peachtree Rd. NW, Atlanta 30309-1465.

The Jesters’ last show is sold out, raising funds to buy a van that will get Harold around, and the golf tournament that Charlie Maddox and Friends of Harold Williams put on a couple of weeks ago was a great success at raising funds for the same purpose.

Pound-for-pound (especially with his weight down) Harold Williams probably has as many friends as anybody in Athens, and every one of us is pulling for him to get through this present setback so that he can resume physical therapy and get some of his strength back. Hang in there, Harold!