Hospital Turns 50 With a Lot To Celebrate
Posted on Wednesday, January 26th, 2022
(Marietta, OK, January 18, 2022) With COVID-19 lurking, Mercy Health/Love County has chosen the format of a “drive-through” party for its 50th anniversary, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Friday, January 28, on Legacy Park Lane east of the hospital in Marietta. Each vehicular passenger will receive a hot dog or hamburger lunch and a collection of commemorative 50th anniversary gifts.
“We want to thank the people of Love County for establishing the hospital, clinic, and EMS/Fire Brigade and for being our patients and our continuous supporters,” said Scott Callender, Administrator. “We invite everyone to celebrate with us in this safer way."
A 32-page anniversary publication about Mercy Health/Love County and its coworkers will be coming out in time for the party.
The original Love County Health Center opened on January 30, 1972. It is still county-owned while enjoying a management agreement with Mercy Health System. It currently employs 147 medical and support staff.
In the last dozen years, the hospital’s footprint grew with new and expanded services. Several individuals and departments won awards for exceptional accomplishments.
Construction and Acquisition:
- A 3,500 sq. ft. Therapy Building opened in 2010. Services include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, respiratory care, pulmonary rehabilitation, and a community room.
- A Social Services Building (2,200 sq. ft) and an Adult Day Center (5,500 sq. ft.) opened in 2014. A core DHS staff works rent-free in the Social Services Building to retain the agency’s presence in Marietta when a new Carter-Love DHS Building opened in Ardmore in 2013. Lighthouse Behavioral Health, a mental health agency, and the Love County Emergency Manager also have offices there. Adult day services ceased in 2020 at the onset of COVID-19.
- Legacy Park, on 10 acres, features a looping, 1/2 mile hard-surface recreational trail, and a 4,200 sq. ft. Growers Market, which opened in 2016.
- All the services mentioned above brought high-level recognition in 2015 from the National Association of State Offices of Rural Heath. The organization awarded the hospital the “Community Star” designation for building a health campus to benefit Marietta and Love County.
- The hospital’s emergency department and the clinic expanded in 2015 and 2018, respectively, with building additions that substantially enlarged both departments. There are six primary care providers in the Rural Health Clinic and four in the Emergency Department.
- Love County EMS/Fire Brigade, operated by the hospital under contract with the Chickasaw Nation, acquired a brand-new platform/ladder truck in 2018 for its fleet at WinStar Casino in Love County. Forty-seven medics, firefighters, and casino first aid attendants are employed in the EMS/Fire Brigade, the only service of its type among U.S. hospitals. There are more licensed paramedics than in any other rural Oklahoma county, and they do double duty in the emergency room and on ambulance runs.
- 80 acres north of Legacy Park were acquired by Mercy Health/Love County for future use. The land is bordered by Interstate 35 on the west and U.S. Highway 77 on the east.
- Mercy Health/Love County was recognized in 2013 as the most productive hospital for blood drives in the southern region of the Ardmore Donor Center. The southern region covers eight counties. The award was for superiority over the prior seven years. Kelvin McMillan is the blood drive coordinator.
- In 2015, coworkers celebrated with Richard Barker, FACHE, his 25th year as CEO, establishing him, according to Oklahoma Hospital Association records, as the longest-serving hospital administrator in Oklahoma. Barker retired in 2021.
- Laboratory technologists celebrated winning the “Turn Around Time” contest eight quarters in a row from 2015-2017. The Mercy System region, made up of the critical access rural hospitals plus the larger hospitals in Ardmore and Ada, grades labs on the time to complete essential laboratory tests in a quality way. The win streak continued.
- Director of Nursing Marie Ross, RN, returned to college at night in 2015 to elevate her credential to BSN. The faculty of OCU Kramer School of Nursing selected her as “Star Student” in the class of 250. The award cited Ross as the individual having many responsibilities outside of class but persevering with excellence to complete the nursing degree. She is the hospital’s longest-serving coworker at 46 years.
- Maria Maynard, PA-C of Mercy Health/Love County, received the “Rural PA of the Year” award from the Oklahoma Academy of Physician Assistants in 2021.
- Nikki Barker, Nurse Practitioner, earned straight A’s while obtaining a Doctorate of Nursing degree in 2021.
In 2021, the Hospital Auxiliary celebrated its 50th year of volunteer service, and the hospital food pantry serving the hungry and food insecure marked its 20th year. Also turning 20 were the websites of the hospital, www.mercyhealthlovecounty.com, and Love County EMS, www.lovecountyems.com.