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With a nod back to the man who inspired it all, Pomerene Hospital celebrated its 75th anniversary Wednesday.
In a ceremony that brought hospital staff, administration and board members to gather around the flag pole, Chief Executive Officer of Pomerene Hospital Tony Snyder congratulated those who have made the last 75 years possible.
"We want to celebrate 75 years of Pomerene Hospital, but not only that -- it's 75 years of past and present employees of Pomerene carrying on the tradition of caring for our community's health," he said.
In recognizing the hospital's 75th anniversary, Snyder reflected on the man who so shaped the course of medicine in Holmes County so many years ago -- Joel E. Pomerene.
Pomerene, a native of Lancaster, Pa., practiced medicine in Holmes County in the 1880s. During the Civil War, Pomerene served with the 42nd Ohio Volunteer Regiment, establishing a lifelong friendship with the regiment's leader, James A. Garfield. He was wounded in the war, and returned to his practice in Mount Hope in 1863 after serving as Ohio's Surgeon-General, later moving his practice to Millersburg to better serve the area.
After serving the community faithfully for many years, Pomerene died in 1888 at the age of 55.
"He lived a very full life in Holmes County and he was well loved. The story would end there. But to our benefit, it doesn't stop there," Snyder said.
Following in her father's footsteps, Jennie Pomerene Haney set up a $10,000 trust fund upon her death in 1919 for the purpose of building a county hospital named, fittingly, after Joel Pomerene.
The county hospital opened its doors for patients on June 1, 1937, in a single-story facility staffed by 10 physicians. The original hospital housed a six-bed women's ward, a three-bed men's ward, six private rooms and a three-bed obstetrics ward and five-crib nursery.
Today, Pomerene Hospital employs more than 325 staff members and 90 physicians, making it one of the largest employers in Holmes County. After several major renovation and expansion projects, the hospital has three floors and more than 30 departments.
Annually, the hospital sees 12,000 emergency department visits and delivers an average of 500-600 babies per year, conducting 400-500 inpatient surgeries and 800-850 outpatient surgeries per year.
Seventy-five years later, the hospital strives to continue to realize the Pomerene vision of being a leader and partner in providing high quality, cost effective health care for all residents of greater Holmes County.
"When you think about Pomerene Hospital and Holmes County, we are well rooted in those who care for the county. He did it for all his life and now, over 75 years, that legacy is turned over to us," said Snyder. "Hopefully for the next 75 years, we can continue to do the job Joel Pomerene started."
Darell Kick, representing U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio, read a proclamation recognizing the hospital for 75 years of excellent community care.
To commemorate the occasion, an American flag, the flag of Ohio and a Pomerene Hospital 75th Anniversary flag were raised to the national anthem.
In addition to remembering the hospital's beginnings, the day focused on the heart of the hospital's success: The employees.
"Thank you all very much for not only being here today, but for everything you do for Pomerene," said Snyder to those present.
Lois Uhl, a 30-year veteran, began working at the hospital in 1972.
"The hospital was one floor, the second floor wasn't there. I remember helping move up to the original Med-Surg. I've seen a lot of physical changes in addition to everything else," she said.
Other changes have come in the form of improved patient care. Now the hospital uses evidence-based practices to enhance the quality and consistency of care, she said.
"Now, everything has to be done according to the plan of care that's best suited for the patient, and you have guidelines that you use for taking care of patients. It's a lot different than it was, but they are good changes," said Uhl.
Kathy Snyder, a 31-year employee who began working at Pomerene Hospital as a senior in high school, has always loved the home-town quality of the hospital's care.
"You're caring for people that you know," she said. "You work among your friends and family. A lot of the patients that we care for, we know them or they know you; They might be your family or your neighbor."
In addition, the hospital has always provided its employees with excellent benefits and pay, she said.
"It's an overall good place to work," said Snyder. "Whenever you believe in an organization that you represent, that makes you proud to be a part of it."
This sense of pride is in line with the hospital's core value statement, "I Am Pomerene," in which every employee takes ownership by living out the mission, vision and values of the hospital every day in every task and every encounter, remembering that "I am memorable, I am accountable, I am mindful, I am grateful and I am an owner."
"It truly is family taking care of family. And you consider your co-workers part of your work family," said Uhl.
As a testament to this, Uhl's two daughters also work at the hospital.
This sense of ownership is a major contributor in the hospital being awarded the North Coast 99 Award for top employers in Northeast Ohio, said Public Relations and Marketing Coordinator Rebecca Ragon.
"That comes from employee surveys in which people are saying they love it here. It's a great place to work," she said.
Other recent awards include recognition by Press Ganey and the Top Performers on Key Quality Measures award by the Joint Commission.
After the ceremony, hospital staff and members were invited to a celebration hog roast lunch along with opportunities to win door prizes.
Reporter Kelley Mohr can be reached at 330-674-5676 or firstname.lastname@example.org.