Guest editorial: Sumter County born

Published 2:01 pm Saturday, September 15, 2018

Americus and Sumter County Hospital opened a new facility on Forsyth St. in the year 1953. I was born in September of that year in that new facility. My parents and I never had a clue at the time how very important that hospital would be in shaping my life.
As a child I would always wonder at the mystery of that big red brick hospital that sat high on a hill overlooking pine trees and red climbing roses that grew on a fence that surrounded the property. I certainly did not get to go inside until I was older because children were never allowed to visit in those days.
Sometimes my Daddy would visit family members or friends who were patients in
that hospital. He would take me with him but I had to stay seated in the lobby until he returned. I can remember the double steel and glass doors and a flight of steps to get up to the lobby.
There was shiny waxed tile floors and a wooden counter where the switchboard operator sat
and greeted visitors. The room was filled with dark paneling, dark sofas, side tables with lamps, tables full of magazines and a pay telephone booth. I always wanted to see what was beyond
the swinging doors that lead to the sick people that Daddy visited.
The summer I was 15 years old my cousin Linda asked me to take a nurse aide
class with her at the hospital so that we could possibly get a job. Both of us loved
working every day we could usually 3 pm until 11 pm shift. After school started back
that fall we worked weekends and holidays. We both learned about life and death at
a young age and both attended college while working as nurse assistants. We both
became registered nurses.
That red brick hospital that I always wondered about as a child became my second home for so many years. The nurses, doctors, housekeepers, lab and xray techs and especially all the nurse aides became so important to me. All the staff was like a “family” working together through good and bad days.
That hospital and all the staff there saved my life in so many ways as a teenager and young adult. I found good role models and was supported and encouraged to continue my education.
I have turned 65 years old this September and have retired from nursing. I will never forget all the lessons I learned inside that red brick hospital surrounded by red roses. The tornado of 2007 destroyed much of the building but nothing can destroy the dedication, compassion, strength and memories that all the employees gave to me.
Thank you Americus and Sumter County.

Dana Osborne Kobs Rylander, RN, lives in Americus.