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HMH celebrates 60 years of change

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By Kelly Cantrall

Barbara Proffitt has witnessed significant changes at Hardin Memorial Hospital, both as an employee and as a resident of Hardin County. Nothing made that more evident than the bill she received when her daughter was born at the hospital, a bill that now is framed for display at the 60th anniversary celebration at the hospital Friday.

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Total charges, written by hand, for bringing Rhonda Proffitt Hunter into the world in March 1959 were $168.85. The financial burden on Proffitt, however, was significantly less.

“We got out for $19.50,” Proffitt said.

Having a hospital in the county meant no more long drives to Louisville for medical care, a fact that matters greatly to Proffitt, who saw both her parents saved at the hospital after suffering heart attacks.

“So it’s meant a lot,” she said.

The work to bring the hospital to the county was celebrated Friday, with presentations made to the Elizabethtown Lions’ Club and Elizabethtown Woman’s Club for their efforts in that mission.

HMH CEO Dennis Johnson said club members and other residents “promulgated a vision, or a dream, to have a state-of-the-art medical center right here in Hardin County.”

Diane Logsdon, an administrative executive at HMH, reminded everyone that it wasn’t

easy bringing the dream to life.

“We have to recall the seven-year struggle to bring this hospital to Hardin County,” she said. Most residents at the time did not feel a local hospital was necessary or something the tax base could support, she said. A vote to initiate the bonding process failed and only succeeded on a second attempt.

The hospital opened in 1954 with 81 beds and 60 employees and has grown to house 300 beds and 2,100 employees, and includes 50 off-site locations.

It’s the employees who truly make up the hospital, Hardin County Judge-Executive Harry Berry said.

“They are the face of of Hardin Memorial Health,” Berry said.

One employee, Paula Strange, has worked at the hospital for 35 years. The changes she has seen include her own personal transitions.

“We’ve kind of gone from being the (students) to maybe the teachers a little bit,” she said.

Kelly Cantrall can be reached at 270-505-1747 or kcantrall@thenewsenterprise.com.