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A little bit of unity...

On my drive to work this morning, like almost every morning, I switch from Channel 63 (SiriusXM radio) to FM 96.7 (KBEL) right about the time I cross the Red River. As faithful a listener as anyone to the morning show host, Dave, my favorite part is the start of the day with a prayer, followed by random artists' rendition of our National Anthem. And every morning, like clockwork, Dave faithfully sets the stage before the music starts with, "... a little pride... a little patriotism... a little unity for our United States of America."


Unity. Boy, what a thought.


For just nearly fourteen months now, I have been the CEO here at McCurtain Memorial and over the last year I have witnessed what division looks like at its worst and I have also witnessed what unity looks like.


From the very first day that I arrived here at the hospital, there was a mix in both division and unity. Unity in that many agreed that the direction the hospital was headed in was not a good path but divided on who could, and perhaps should, lead the hospital forward. I never had any intentions nor did I have any indication when I accepted the role as Senior Human Resource Director that in a matter of days I would be serving as the hospital's chief executive. I'll spare you the walk down memory lane of how I became CEO or the circumstances that surrounded that but I will tell you how great the need was to unify. Not only unify my two-hundred-plus employees, but how to unify the hospital with our local government and this community.


In a matter of days of accepting the job as the administrator, it was clear: the actions of a handful was the root of the majority of the division that existed within our own walls at the hospital and truthfully, between us and the community - as well as local leaders. Of course the division mounted throughout the years but it was always the result of discord between only a handful of people at odds with each other.


I look back today and I can truly say that so much progress was made in unifying our employees, our relationships with local leaders and the residents of this community. Likewise, I see the footprint of division in the sand, however so lightly, along the way. I learned that almost always, it was one or two who were hell-bent on creating division but at the end of the day, right would prevail.


When I would look out across the crowd of employees who were rallying right beside me for change and that "unity" we so desperately needed, early on it would effect me greatly to see the one or two off to the side who just were not ready and at times, created a lot of noise. Yes, they were very few - but they were loud.


In the weeks leading up to the election last year, I saw such an overwhelming amount of unity and support for this hospital but, like the early days here at McCurtain Memorial, I also saw and heard the one or two who were divided on the issue of allowing a new tax that would construct a new hospital - but those one or two were loud. As hard as I tried, I could not ignore the noise. I would find myself angry and responding to attacks on my employees and this hospital only to realize later I had gave relevance to those very voices I was trying to ignore.


When the hospitals lease between us and the county renewed in the Summer of 2022, I saw unity. When the county commissioners approved a resolution to get the additional 2% lodging tax on the November ballot, I saw unity. When voters went to the polls on November 8 and approved that additional 2% lodging tax for the construction of a new hospital, I saw unity.


Recently, we all have witnessed division yet again. But, just like every time before, it's the work of one or two but by no means, just like any time before and in every circumstance where unity and division exists, right always prevails. I'd love to tell you that right always comes in the form of the majority but that's just not true. No matter our position and the number who share that same sentiment, rather it be one or, let's say, 5,250 voters, right will always prevail.


I challenge you today and each day forward, evaluate where you stand in any matter life may bring your way. Be on the right side. I wish I could tell you that this is always easy and that it's simply with the majority but it's rarely that simple. Trust not your emotions when making the right decision for our emotions are affected directly by our circumstances in that moment and whatever our circumstances may be at any given time thereafter. Right will never teeter back and forward or side to side based on circumstances. Right is always right.


___ I have decided to start a blog and periodically share my thoughts with you and answer questions about the hospital, etc. Please feel free to send questions, comments or concerns to ceo@mmhok.com.




Brian Whitfield Chief Executive Officer McCurtain Memorial Hospital

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