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Phoebe Paver Project celebrates 17 years

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- An area hospital is continuing with a tradition meant to honor loved ones from the past and present.

Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital held its annual paver dedication ceremony in the hospital's main lobby Tuesday morning.

The ceremony is meant to bring attention to the names honored through the Phoebe Paver Project, a brick pathway located in the exterior walkway between the hospital's main entrance and its tower. Each brick is engraved with someone's name.

"I do know traditions are important to Phoebe; this tradition has grown to honor those dear to our hearts," said Phoebe CEO Joel Wernick. "These moments give us time to reflect. Memories are important, and we ought to pause for the special people in our life."

Among those recognized were the 21 Phoebe retirees who left in 2009.

"Our saying is, once a part of the Phoebe family, always a member of the Phoebe family," said Dave Baranski, vice president of human resources at Phoebe. "They may be gone for a while, but they are not forgotten."

Ten bricks were placed in honor of various individuals Tuesday. In addition, 38 bricks were purchased in memory of someone. Among the inductees this year was "Hero," an Albany animal-assisted therapy dog who died last year.

Donald L. Welch, Jr., who passed away in 2003 at the age of 47, was also among those recently memorialized via the paver project.

"I am so proud of Donald's life," said Cindy Welch, Donald Welch's widow and a current member of the P.E.A.C.H. (Phoebe Employees Active in Community Health) Committee. "Opportunity knocks on our doors daily; I encourage you to embrace it."

Bricks generally cost anywhere between $25-$50. The funds are plugged into the Phoebe Foundation as well as any service of the hospital that has a need.

"The funds support the hospital," said Tom Sullivan, vice president and executive director of the Phoebe Foundation. "We are able to offset the expense of providing care, but it goes beyond the funding. It's a way to honor those that have been a part of Phoebe's fabric."

The project is in its 17th year. To date, 1,900 bricks have been used to mark the birth of a new baby, memorialize loved ones or give thanks to a friend or medical professional. Each spring, a dedication ceremony recognizes those who have added new bricks in the name of someone they wish to honor.

"It's a great tradition for the hospital," Sullivan said. "It is special for those who have participated.

"We hope to eventually have all the bricks filled with names. Each brick has its own individual story; we are real proud of that. It's the people and the stories behind them that are significant."