Sometimes success lies in the effort

Published 10:13 pm Thursday, January 28, 2010

My first two years in college I spent pretty actively involved in the Catholic campus ministry at Troy University. The group called FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) was led by two guys and two girls sent from different parts of the United States. Troy’s not a heavily populated Catholic area, but the group had probably more than 50 active students. After my second year of college, though, the organization pulled itself out of Troy University, leaving behind all the work it started. That was a sad day for me – looking at how far I thought the group had come and watching it all disappear. So sad, it was something I felt I couldn’t allow to happen. So I and a few others decided we would task ourselves with trying to keep the group together the best we could. For the next two years, we were students leading students, or at least attempting to, in their faith. And for the next two years, I spent most of that time feeling inadequate, overwhelmed and like one failing at the task before me. I knew I was no saint, and I knew I had no more answers about how to live than any of those students I was supposedly “leading” down the straight and narrow path. Despite it all, I persevered because I felt it was the right thing to do. Looking back though, it doesn’t seem like such a failed task any longer. During those two years, no 50 students were involved — more like 15. But, we were 15 who encouraged one another, learned from one another and strived to do what our faith taught us was right. And, while we weren’t that group of 50, it wasn’t fair to myself to think we would be without the resources, the time and the knowledge of those that had come before us. We were just students, doing the best we could. Looking back now, I’m reminded of the words former hospital investor Gil McKenzie said after the city of Troy took over Troy Regional Medical Center two weeks ago: “I sure am glad we tried.” And I’m sure there are many grateful for the efforts of not just McKenzie, but the 14 physicians and the city of Troy who all worked collectively to keep the hospital doors open in Pike County. As a reporter, I have sat on the sidelines of this hospital endeavor closely for the last year. From the day the investors group asked the city to extend its agreement to back the hospital to the most recent day it forfeited its ownership to the city of Troy and every step in between,

I have kept close watch on what these groups were doing. I have spent countless hours in meetings and on phone calls with McKenzie, doctor owners and city officials and exchanged numerous e-mails with many of them. Still, I have kept myself separated from the issue, enough to fairly report the issues at hand and not my thoughts. Whether it is right that the city of Troy is now operating our local hospital, whether it is right it is doing so with the addition of a one-cent sales tax and whether the doctors truly did all they could to keep TRMC running during their tenure, is not for me to say. But, now that it’s all said and done, there are a few things I will say. I haven’t met each of the 14 physicians that invested in the ownership of Troy Regional Medical Center. But two years ago, these physicians saw the damage former owners Attentus Health Care had done in leading the hospital well toward bankruptcy nearly shutting the hospital doors for good. For the physicians I have met, I know that was something they wouldn’t have wanted to see happen, and so, they didn’t. They banded together to try to keep the hospital running smoothly with the city of Troy backing them the whole way. Tasked with overcoming the financial disorder Attentus left behind, I imagine those physicians and McKenzie felt a little like David and Goliath at times — small men facing very big giants. And still, those doctors, who are not businessmen but health care professionals, took on the task of running TRMC. It reminds me of a slightly younger me, trying to do something much less challenging in leading a campus ministry. I imagine there were times those physicians, like me, felt inadequate with the task at hand and perhaps now even feel like the mission failed. But, has it really failed? That group of physicians never said they would, without a doubt, turn Troy Regional Medical Center into a thriving health care facility — at least to me they didn’t. What they did say is they sure would try. These physicians are out money, time and probably a lot of energy, but they have brought the hospital further, without at doubt, than its former owners had done. And, still, the county’s residents have a hospital they can turn to in their time of need. It’s not an easy task to make something out of nothing, to do something you’re not necessarily familiar with doing. From one who knows that well to the doctors, I salute your efforts.

Holli Keaton is news editor of The Messenger. She can be reached at

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