St. Clair hospital celebrates its first anniversary
by David Atchison
More than 100 people attended Monday’s First Year Anniversary Celebration of the new St. Vincent’s St. Clair Hospital on Veterans Parkway.

“Wow has it been a year already?” said Kidada Hawkins, vice president of rural hospital operations for St. Vincent’s Health System. “It seems like yesterday that I was part of the transition team.”

Hawkins helped moved patients and equipment from the old dilapidated hospital on Dr. John Haynes Drive to the new $32 million state-of-the art medical facility on Veterans Parkway.

“There are so many, countless of people who helped bring this facility to fruition,” Hawkins said at Monday night’s celebration.

The occasion marked one year of operations for the new hospital that serves St. Clair County and surrounding areas.

“We thank St. Vincent’s for having the faith to build their facility in St. Clair County,” said Don Perry, who serves on St. Vincent’s St. Clair Advisory Board.

City, county and state officials attended Monday’s celebration and the reception that celebrated the first anniversary for the new St. Vincent’s St. Clair Hospital.

The hospital officially opened Dec. 10, 2011, exactly one year to the day Monday.

John O’Neil, president and CEO for St. Vincent’s Health System, said 113 years ago the Daughters of Charity came to Birmingham on a mission and built a hospital for the people.

“It was built by faith 113 years ago, and this facility was built by faith,” O’Neil said. “We are committed to this facility, to this community and we are committed to you.”

He thanked the partners in the joint venture to build the new hospital, which included the St. Clair County Health Care Authority, the St. Clair County Economic Development Council, the City of Pell City and the St. Clair County Commission.

Evan Ray, the president of rural hospital operations for St. Vincent’s Health System, said he felt privileged and blessed to be at the celebration. He joined the health system three months ago.

Ray talked about the progress made at the new hospital built in Pell City only one year ago.

He said St. Vincent’s St. Clair Hospital has seen dramatic increases in the volume of patients in hospital services.

Ray said emergency department visits are up 30 percent, inpatient discharges are up 47 percent, outpatient visits are up 25 percent and surgical procedures are up 20 percent compared to July-October of last year.

He said while St. Vincent’s St. Clair has seen more patients, the quality of service or patient satisfaction has continued to climb.

“Here at St. Vincent’s St. Clair we are exceeding our satisfaction goals,” Ray said. “Quality scores continue to be high at St. Vincent’s St. Clair.”

He said since the hospital opened, the new Physicians Plaza on St. Vincent’s St. Clair campus has added many programs and services, including an advance wound care center and a new sleep diagnostic center will soon open in the Physicians Plaza.

Hospital officials said more than $6.8 million in new equipment was purchased and installed at the new hospital, and the St. Vincent’s Foundation raised more than $3 million for the new St. Vincent’s St. Clair Hospital.

St. Vincent’s St. Clair was recently named the Pell City Chamber of Commerce Large Business of the Year.

During the past year, the hospital hosted Heart Day, which helped screened 268 people. The hospital also held its first Health Fair on the new campus, which is located adjacent to the $50 million Col. Robert L. Howard State Veterans Home, which houses veterans from across the state.

The new hospital has added new medical staff in ENT, gastroenterology, obstetrics/gynecology, nephrology, neurology, ophthalmology, endocrinology and general surgery departments.

Hospital officials said there are many things to celebrate during the one anniversary of St. Vincent’s St. Clair Hospital.

“It’s an exciting day for all of us,” O’Neil said. “If things continue going so well, we may be celebrating another ground breaking in another year.”

The hospital held its annual Tree Lighting Ceremony following the anniversary program and reception.

The Tree Lighting Ceremony was hosted by the St. Vincent’s St. Clair Auxiliary.

© 2012