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Hospital celebrates Helmey Award, 40th anniversary
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Effingham Hospital and Care Center CEO Norma Jean Morgan, right, presents the C. Edward Helmey Award to Christine Tebeau Kersey, left, during a reception Saturday at the hospital. Finalists included Charlotte Goldwire and Lisa Nelson. - photo by Photo by Rick Lott

The Effingham Hospital awarded the C. Edward Helmey Award to Christine Tebeau Kersey on Saturday.

The Helmey Award goes to a person who sets the example of a loyal employee, said hospital CEO Norma Jean Morgan.

“She is supportive of the hospital authority and administration and has been most encouraging as we grow to prepare for the future of healthcare in our county,” Morgan said. “She smiles on days that it’s hard to smile. Her job is never left undone or lacking. She is highly regarded by the Hospital Trustees, the medical staff and all facility employees as a person of integrity and high moral character. She exemplifies the honor deserving an employee who receives the C. Edward Helmey Award.”  

In addition to her award and a bouquet of roses, a plaque bearing her likeness will be added to the wall of past honorees in the Hospital.

“I have been here an awful long time,” Kersey, executive  assistant to Morgan, said. “I’ve seen people come and go, this is the most wonderful hospital. It needs to grow, it needs to expand, and it needs to modernize.”  

Other finalists for the Helmey Award were Charlotte Goldwire and Lisa Nelson. The award has been given since 1994.

The hospital also held a reception Saturday to mark its 40th anniversary. Morgan said she remembered Dr. Ray Webb “running around, giving orders, and Lucille  Wetherington for making sure all the supplies were in place, Claudette Jordan making sure all the medical records were in place, Gail Hawk making sure that the food services were in place, Betty Norton making sure that she was prepared to take the first nursing home patient.”

The hospital also will be publishing a book, “A History of Medicine in Effingham County Since Beginning in 1734” later this year.

“We look back and we know that we have become who we are by trial and error,” Morgan said. “We have become who we are by working together and making many mistakes, but by taking the strong points of each of us and by putting them together to make one strong unit here in Effingham County Hospital and Care Center.”

Mary Frances Paul was also recognized with a plaque and thanked for her 35 years of service. 

The final presentation of the day was the unveiling of a portrait painted by Morgan Webb of C. Murray Kight. The painting was unveiled with the help of Kight’s daughters, Mona Kight Ratchford and Molly Kight Marchese.

“I have loved the hospital over the years,” said Kight, who was on the original hospital board.

The original budget to build and furnish the hospital in 1969 was $1,040,000.

“We have come a long ways,” he said. “It has been a pleasure to serve the people of the county on the hospital board.”