I was pleased but not surprised to learn that Texas Health Resources Harris Methodist Hospital in Stephenville was named one of the top 25 hospitals in North Texas in patient care.  Actually, the announcement was dated Nov. 1, 2018, so it while it’s old news, it falls in the new-to-me category.   

The source of the research was the Leapfrog Group, but don’t let the odd name throw you—it’s a real deal.

Of the 25 hospitals, Stephenville is the next-smallest town on the list. Only the Sunnyvale hospital is located in a smaller community.

It was my honor to serve a 2-year stint as chairman of the hospital’s volunteer chaplains while I lived in Stephenville. While the hospital’s leaders didn’t have to, they let me look over their shoulders at a good deal of the hospital’s decision-making, including sitting in on one meeting of the ethics committee. During this time, the late Bea Marin was director of nursing, and Joyce Pollen was assistant director. Both of them took patient care extremely seriously. No shortcuts, no cover-ups, and laziness or incompetence were simply not tolerated.

I remember one time reading in the Empire-Tribune  about how surgeon Dr. Steve Erck patched up a guy who was stabbed in the heart during a bar fight.  Dr. Erck repaired the stab wound while the man’s heart was still beating, and the victim lived to tell about it. I remember thinking, “If I ever have to go under the knife, he’s the surgeon I want.”    

I tucked that thought away, but about a decade later, long after moving from Stephenville,  I had occasion to put it on the front burner, when I did need surgery myself. (Just for the record—my own surgery had nothing to do with a bar fight!) I traveled back to Stephenville, and Dr. Erck performed the surgery. I was treated well by everyone, but I especially remember that,  just before going into surgery,  Nurse Golightly laid her hand on my shoulder and prayed for me.  You don’t get that compassion everywhere.   

Stephenville, I hope you realize what a gem you have in your local hospital.  Such quality is no accident. It is the result of the sacrifices of many medical professionals who mixed competence and compassion.

Rodger Weems,

Former pastor Graham Street Church of Christ