Hospital celebrates centennial with weekend benefit gala

The Ashland Community Hospital celebrated its 100th anniversary on Saturday with a gala at the Windmill Inn.

This was the 18th year that the Ashland Community Hospital Foundation has presented a gala, according to Carolyn Johnson, director of planning and marketing at the hospital.

"The foundation, for the past 17 years, has put on what they call a 'friend-raiser;' a way to say 'thank you' to people who have been involved with and donated to the hospital," she says. "This year, because of our anniversary, the hospital partnered with the foundation to make it an even bigger party."

Scott Lewis, meteorologist at Channel 12 in Medford, presided over the ceremonies and opened the night with a quote by Johnson to illustrate what makes Ashland's hospital special:

"When you go down to our dining room, we have long tables and at any long table you'll have a doctor sitting next to a respiratory therapist, across from a housekeeper and a secretary. They're all mixed together, a result of when they arrived in the dining room and where the empty chair is. I think that is a metaphor for [the hospital's] culture."

This quote was read from the recently updated "Ashland Community Hospital: A Century of Caring," a copy of which was given to each attendee.

Johnson's husband Bruce was presented with the Distinguished Service Award by the Ashland Community Hospital Foundation's Board President Don Mackin, who first recognized the last 17 recipients of the award, many of whom were present for the occasion.

Bruce Johnson, who retired last week, had been at Ashland Community Hospital for 35 years and founded the hospital's hospice and palliative care programs in addition to delivering, by his account, more than a thousand babies. He said the award was simultaneously rewarding and shocking, as he had not even considered the possibility of receiving it.

The award was followed by a documentary of the hospital that chronicled its last 100 years, also titled "A Century of Caring." The film was comprised of pictures of the hospital's many former locations and interviews with surviving contributors to the effort including Harry and Maggie Skerry, Florence Shilling and Mark Marchetti, the hospital's chief executive officer.

The evening closed with much dancing and celebration, with music provided by the band Zion Train.

is a correspondent for the Tidings and the author of this series on the Ashland Community Hospital. He can be reached at

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