Nearly 100 people gathered at Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital Sunday afternoon to honor a couple who have contributed a great amount to the community throughout their years — Dr. Jim and Isabel Harrell. On Sunday, the patient tower at the hospital officially was named in tribute to the Harrells.
“Our hospital trustees and foundation board wanted to commemorate Dr. and Mrs. Harrell for their countless contributions to Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital over the years,” said Paul Hammes, CEO of HCMH. “Nearly 100 friends, family and officials gathered last Sunday as we honored Dr. Jim and Isabel by naming our patient tower after them.
“As Tom Gwyn inferred in his remarks, the Harrells will long be remembered as towering figures in our community for their vision, selfless service and unwavering faith,” he said.
Other speakers included Dr. Bill Davis Jr., the foundation’s board chairman, Barbara Chatham, Larry Irwin, Howard Nabors and Gary York, with the Rev. Bill Johnson beginning the ceremony with an invocation.
“I give gracious thanks, and Isabel does also, to Paul Hammes, the executive administrator of the hospital, the hospital board and the foundation board for this tremendous recognition,” said Dr. Harrell as he accepted the tribute. “I accept this wonderful, magnificent award with great humility and gratitude and in honor of all those who gave pledges of money, time and work to produce this grand addition to our hospital that has made it achieve high rating among hospitals in North Carolina.”
He went on to thank the speakers and others gathered for the occasion.
“I love the town of Elkin which has been my home for 94 years,” Harrell continued. “I have enjoyed and appreciated all the projects and challenges that have been presented to me and do not regret a single one.”
Of his late wife, he added, “Isabel will be thrilled and happy that her name will be on this tower with mine. I am also so proud of my four wonderful children and their spouses, my nine grandchildren and my 11 great-grandchildren.”
“This patient tower is dedicated in honor of Dr. Jim and Isabel Harrell who generosity, vision and love of community inspired a successful multi-year capital campaign to expand the hospital, build this tower and fund the hospital’s helipad,” noted the message on the program for the dedication.
“Dr. Harrell served as the inaugural chair of our foundation board, continuing in this capacity for 18 years through December of 2015,” said Hammes of Harrell’s service, which included being a hospital trustee prior to his role with the foundation. “Under Dr. Harrell’s watch, the foundation raised more than $11 million for the hospital, helping to fund ital projects that have improved quality, access and service for our patients and community.”
Hammes said more than 60 people have served as foundation board members during Harrell’s 18-year tenure as chairman. “As a result, through their ongoing stewardship as community leaders and volunteers, his legacy lives on in so many different ways,” he said.
At the end of the dedication ceremony, a large plaque was revealed featuring an engraving of Dr. and Mrs. Harrell in the glass. Hammes said the plaque will hang in the main floor hallway of the patient tower.
“If you were to ask Dr. Harrell about his remarkable achievements, he would take none of the credit,” Hammes said. “Instead, he would point to his faith and to his brilliant and loving wife, Isabel, who was his inspiration, partner and best friend. Inseparable, their combined service to our hospital, foundation and community will touch lives for generations.”
While it was a time to honor the Harrells, Dr. Harrell ended his comments with a prayer, asking blessings for each of the individuals gathered for the dedication and giving appreciation for the work and volunteerism that made Hugh Chatham possible.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.