The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC


June 3, 2013

Small town hospitals often get bum rap

PRINCEVILLE — By and large, I think small town hospitals get a bum rap.

I know everyone has a horror story to tell about their hospital experience, and I’ve heard my share since arriving in Tarboro, but it’s not just the hospital up the street that sometimes experience problems.

There are the stories about the big, university teaching hospitals where instruments or sponges were discovered to have been left inside the patient after surgery and my line of thought is that if the big boys — with all their so-called checks and balances — can have a tumble, then so can their little cousins.

In Big Spring, Texas, the hospital was called Scenic Mountain Medical Center, but the locals called it “Suicide Mountain” for the inference that if you went, you were, in effect, committing suicide.

There were stories, of course, but most were third or fourth-hand and two or three times removed and were almost always prefaced by “I knew someone who knew ...”

When I had cancer in 2004, Stephanie and I talked a long time about treatment and many people thought we were crazy when I made the decision to be treated at Thomasville Medical Center and not the big guys in the Triangle.

It would up being a pretty easy decision, though, because we knew all of my caregivers personally ... even many of the nurses ... and I slept in my own bed every night.

Had I been elsewhere, we would have had limited support, but staying at home, my ENT, Frank Burton, actually managed the care provided by the radiation oncologist and the hematologist. When I was sick, I could go see our family doc.

When Frank did the partial resection of my neck to remove the lymph node, he did it at Thomasville Medical Center and late that night, when a seepage began, the nurse called both Frank and Stephanie, who had been a nurse in the ED there and, while I didn’t ask her to be called, he knew she would want to know.

Yes, I have a couple of hospital horror stories, but not from one of the little guys.

The little guys have done very well by Stephanie and me ... Thomasville, Franklinton, La. and Tarboro.

My wife and I have both been on the receiving end of the care of Dr. Weathers and staff in the ED and, in the words of one of the signs that hung in the OR on M-A-S-H, it was “the best care anywhere.”

Rinson Weathers, in my opinion, could write the manual on bedside etiquette for ED docs ... even, easy, matter-of-fact and always on his game.

He and his staff, after the EMTs delivered me to their capable hands, gave me the care I needed to allow me to write this clumn today.

And they do it — to one extent or another — 26,000 times a year.

 To me, that’s why the expansion of the emergency department at the hospital is so vital.

A community’s access to quality healthcare is one of the first things people look at when considering a new community —just ask Stephanie, our healthcare researcher!

The completion of the expansion is a key step in the fiscal well-being of our community in that there are others, like me, who want to stay at home at a time like that.

Because we have the services we do at our hospital, we have a leg up on other communities. It’s an important part of the mix ... of the “return” of Tarboro ... that will be unveiled Tuesday.

(John H. Walker is editor and publisher of The Daily Southerner. He can be reached at 823-3106 or editor


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    On July 28, 911 was called because my husband had a bad headache. I was transferred to communications in Edgecombe County, where I spoke to a female operator. I informed her I needed Rescue because my husband had a bad headache and gave her our address and telephone number.

    September 26, 2013


    To the Editor:
    Sheriff Knight’s “guys” may have worked hard on the case concerning Melvin Ray Fox, but did they really? Probably not for the sheriff, but for someone else behind the scenes. Not condoning Mr. Fox for his crime, because he should be punished, but not necessarily in the manner of leaving behind his wife as well as his 3-, 5- 7- and 13-year-old children.

    September 10, 2013


    Concerning the Tarboro High 2013 Vikings football team: They have heart and desire. That was shown Friday night versus Washington. Just like last year’s state championship game, we got behind against a very good team. The Vikings didn’t quit even though they had several injuries throughout the game.  Right up to the last minute we had a chance  but, things didn’t go our way.

    September 5, 2013


    To the Editor:
    It appears Mr. (Garland) Shepheard is shaking up things in our fair city according to a recent Daily Southerner article. Hurrah for him. This citizen, for one, believes the status quo needs a little shake up.
    I don’t know if Mr. Shepheard is disrespectful with his words and/or
    actions at council meetings or not. I don’t attend them any longer. It isn’t that I don’t care that some residents may suggest.

    September 4, 2013


    To the Editor:
    Having just recently read the front page article in The Daily Southerner regarding Councilman Shepheard’s issues with the Tarboro town manager, I was left with more questions than answers.
    The article states that  Mr. Shepheard’s reasons for not voting in favor of extending the town manager’s contract had to do with “deplorable conditions of three town facilities, Thornton’s hiring practices and giving the council what he said was false information.” That’s it.  That’s all the information we were given.

    September 2, 2013


    To the Editor:
    So who are you Mr. Allen Dennie Jr.? I have never heard of you. I have tried to find your voter registration on the North Carolina State Board of Elections website and I can't find it.
    Somebody said that you have an impressive resume. I say and ?
    But what I find interesting is the following. Mr. Dennie the current Sheriff is the following: "The sheriff of any county should be a person who has a personal interest in the citizens that work live and visit their county,"

    August 18, 2013


    To the Editor:
    I am glad that opinions are being expressed regarding my actions at the Town Council meetings,  both by Mr. Walker and Mr. Wooten.
    It is my intention to expose the concerns expressed to me by the taxpayers of Tarboro, and when I find something that causes Tarboro not to be the Town we can all be proud of, I will speak up. I was told by people in Ward 8 when I ran for this office not to be like the rest of the Council and I expressed that to the members. The problems that exist in Tarboro should not have to be aired in public or at the Town Council Meetings and there should not be any discord.

    August 18, 2013


    To the Editor:
    I am writing out of concern about disc golf. We as a town need to consider projects that have been given to (parks and recreation director) Cheryl Gay before this disc golf came along — like a walking trail at Clark Park, repairing the bathrooms, making sure the playground equipment is up-to-date and finding out what happen to the lights on the baseball field before we find money for disc golf. The town needs to consider what we been discussing in these last couple of meetings about recreation. I would love to see the Clark Park baseball field turned into a kickball field, which is a sport that everybody knows how to play, before you consider disc golf.
    Greg Higgs,

    August 15, 2013


    To the Editor:
    Monday night at the Town Council meeting (Aug. 12, 2013), I witnessed some the most disruptive,vitriolic and asinine behavior that I’ve ever seen, in the person of (Ward 8) councilman Garland Shepheard.  For several months, his behavior has grown progressively worse and it seems to embolden him to waste my time, the time of the other council members and the time of other citizens who care enough about Tarboro to attend council meetings.

    August 15, 2013

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