Thursday, March 31, 2011

My Biggest Fan

When Taylor Collins, PhD, arrived at Red Bird to take over as Executive Director, he was very clear: he did not like what I was doing at the Clinic. He had no intention of ceding any space or service to anybody besides Red Bird staff. Health care, as part of Methodist mission in southeast Kentucky, had "been in these mountains" for almost 90 years; he had no intention of letting it go.

Taylor was a graduate of Red Bird School and part of a large local family down on Jack's Creek. He went on to receive multiple degrees and worked as teacher, principal, and superintendent of schools near and far. He moved home to The Valley from Texas, and took over Red Bird Mission as its first Director to have grown up in the community. His local roots made him a favorite of locals; he seemed rather suspicious of those of us who had come from the outside.

It took time, but he listened to my well-reasoned reasons for divesting healthcare. Document after document, study after study, projection after projection...and finally he listened. Taylor Collins went from being my biggest critic to "being my biggest fan" (his words). His support helped persuade a sceptical board of directors and meant that healthcare was secured in the Red Bird Valley for the future. On January 1, 2011 health services at Red Bird Mission were turned over to the Adventist Health System; the partnership provided jobs for almost all of the staff, provided monies for the Mission, and continued quality care in the region. I worked myself out of a job and quietly slipped back to our home in Indiana.

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