Since 1885 the Woman's Christian Association has been providing essential care to the people of our region. Today we will all celebrate a major milestone in the life of WCA Hospital with the grand opening of a brand new, expansive and state of the art Emergency Department.
This new facility replaces an emergency room built in the late 1960s and early '70s that had become not only insufficient in size to accommodate the volume of people who need to be treated, but incapable of delivering the quality of care patients deserved and meeting the requirements imposed on hospitals by New York state.
True leadership was required to make this essential development a reality and in this case, like virtually all other examples of successful endeavors, this took strength of character and clarity of purpose by key individuals who galvanized the purpose of an institution, and harnessed the passion of a much larger group to accomplish what others had claimed was impossible.
While there is a long list of those who played important roles and deserve to be recognized for their efforts, three individuals demonstrated the type of leadership that should serve as models for all of us who are called upon to undertake the challenge of leading institutions and organizations through change, and into successful futures. The leaders who delivered for all of us in this case are WCA board of director chairwomen Judith Burgett and Brenda Ireland, and W.C.A. Foundation chairwoman Cristie Herbst.
Judith Burgett and Brenda Ireland galvanized the will of the board of directors by analyzing the landscape that had existed for many years at WCA with an ER whose physical plant was aged beyond its useful life, a professional staff and their partners in need of direction, and ever increasing demands by patients for more and improved care.
Each of them then took this reality and through their significant personal skills and professional approaches brought a team together to commit the necessary resources to move beyond talk to action, and that action was to find a way to create the partnerships necessary to build a new emergency treatment facility.
One of the first partnerships that had to be created was between WCA Hospital and the W.C.A. Foundation, and this is where the next leader stepped in and changed the landscape through her efforts.
Cristie Herbst as chairwoman of the W.C.A. Foundation also analyzed the realities that existed which included a foundation that was not closely aligned with the hospital in their missions and goals. Through her own unique combination of finely honed communication skills and understanding of our community, Cristie brought her board to the realization that the foundation they lead was best served by direct partnership with WCA Hospital on the development and construction of a new emergency treatment facility.
While that accomplishment on its face may not seem critical, Cristie succeeded in this effort where no other leader in the recent past had, despite the fact that her predecessors were all very talented, experienced community leaders who were committed to the success of the foundation.
Cristie, Barbara and Brenda working together fueled the passion that many others possessed individually, to come together - hospital, physicians, foundations, generous individuals, and many, many others to raise over $14 million and to construct what will become a critical part of serving everyone who needs critical care in our region for decades to come.
Sometimes great things do happen, and this time, like most, it takes leaders with strength of character and clarity of purpose to have progress become reality. These three women demonstrated character and clarity of purpose and deserve our thanks, respect, and serve as a model for all of us.