Preston’s largest employer may also be Preston’s best-kept secret. Yes, I’m speaking of Franklin County Medical Center, or FCMC. As one who spent all of his professional career working in and with hospitals across the country, I know something of what I’m talking about. My name is Dave Weller, and I worked in middle management in a large hospital in San Francisco for 15 years, heading three support services departments. Then in 1989, I left and joined a consulting firm, where we worked for 25 years as contractual systems analysts for hospitals all across the US.
Most of our clients were in the South, Midwest, and Southern California, and the vast majority were (by our choice) smaller, rural hospitals. Thus I’m very familiar, and comfortable, with medical facilities like our own FCMC.
My wife, DeEtta, and I moved here to Preston in September 2005, following my retirement in California’s San Francisco Bay Area. Preston was DeEtta’s hometown, and so it was natural for us to retire to the land of her nativity. But we soon learned that ‘old age isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.’ Both of us found ourselves with an assortment of health conditions that have had us being frequent visitors to our doctors and also to the FCMC, both as inpatients and outpatients. And in November of last year (2020) my beloved DeEtta, who was born at FCMC (then Preston Hospital) in 1941, passed away of non-COVID causes.
But enough about us. FCMC is the subject of this Op Ed!
For any hospital, anywhere, the principle ‘product’ is more than healthcare—it’s the sum total of the services provided by the doctors and nurses, technicians, and management and clerical folks who do all the work. For most people, whether in Tennessee or Idaho or anywhere else, whether they ‘like’ a hospital or not is usually dependent upon how they are treated, as patients or as visitors. You see, hospitals don’t need a ‘marketing department’—each of the employees fill that responsibility as they interact with those who come to their facility.
I could single out almost any FCMC employee, starting with Darin Dransfield, the outstanding CEO. Over the years I’ve worked professionally with many dozens of CEO’s and hospital administrators, and Darin is among the finest I’ve ever met. The employee staff love him, the doctors (who ultimately are the ones who bring patients through the doors) have great respect for him and how he runs the hospital. Many of the medical staff, who have their ‘main offices’ in Logan, prefer to bring their patients to FCMC, or to do their surgery or other procedures here because of the outstanding state-of-the-art facilities and the relative lack of ‘administrative politics.’
Largely all the FCMC employees are dedicated to what they do and to doing it professionally. But by way of example I want to salute in a special way two ladies who are familiar faces (even behind their masks!) to almost everyone who comes to FCMC.
Becky is the one in Admissions (the front desk) who greets everyone with the greatest warmth and gets them started, whether they’re there to be admitted, presenting for an X-ray or a blood test, or are there to visit a friend or family member. No 5-Star hotel greets their guests with more warmth and a genuine welcome than does Becky! (And usually with a delicious cookie to boot!)
The other spotlight is on Melissa, the outstanding manager of the specialty clinic. I have been a frequent patient at the clinic in recent years, and Melissa simply radiates caring. I heard her say recently that she would do her job for nothing if they’d let her! Job One for her is simply caring about the patients who come to the clinic, and doing everything possible to help them to feel better about their situation than when they first came. And her staff follow her lead. Recently, one of the clinic staff even offered to run and get me some breakfast while I waited for my provider (who wasn’t late—I was just several minutes early). Meanwhile Melissa quietly rides herd on a busy clinic housing multiple specialties, where highly-qualified providers serve their patients, each provider on different days of the week.
In my experience, just about everyone else at FCMC is just as wonderful, whatever their job is. Let’s face it—very few people like going to a hospital—they or someone they care about is hurting, or they don’t feel well, and they’d rather be just about any place other than a hospital. But if they have to be there—well, FCMC is almost always a really good choice, in fact I think—the best choice.
Now, of course once in a while things don’t go just right, or maybe we encounter someone who’s having a bad day. No one is perfect, and although FCMC staff are wonderful, we can’t expect things to go without a hitch every time, every visit. So, if somewhere along the line you had a bad experience at FCMC, either as a patient or a visitor, you might be well advised to cut whoever it was a little slack.
And then once in a while I run into someone who believes they absolutely have to go to Logan, or Pocatello, or to some ‘big’ hospital. They seem to think ‘the bigger the hospital, or the larger the city it’s located in, the better the care.’
Well, I strongly dispute that, both from a professional-experience standpoint as well as from a personal experience vantage. If you live in Franklin County, or anywhere nearby, and unless you need something really ‘big,’ like open-heart surgery, or a complex neurological procedure like brain surgery, I recommend your best and only choice should be FCMC. If the situation is medically complex enough to require sophisticated specialists, they’ll know best where to send you.
So, thanks, FCMC, for all you do, and how you bless the collective lives of our entire community!
PS: And the food isn’t bad, either!