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Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2014

Uland had a big part with the hospital project

Posted Monday, October 15, 2012, at 2:01 PM

For 32 years he was a fixture around the hospital, but looking back Jonas Uland is just grateful for the chance he had to serve the community through his position as administrator/CEO at Greene County General Hospital in Linton.

On Friday afternoon, Uland stood outside the group of officials who took part in the groundbreaking ceremony for a $6.5 million renovation/addition at the hospital.

Uland, who was involved in much of the planning for the new project that will elevate the county-owned hospital into a state-of-the-art medical facility, was not part of the pomp and circumstance of the day following his retirement Sept. 30.

Tim Norris is the hospital's assistant CEO until the board of trustees act on Uland's replacement.

That was fine and dandy with Uland, who says his retirement days have been enjoyable.

His humor remains constant after he was teased about having a slight beard growth.

"I forgot (to shave) really. I really did," Uland said with a smile. "I do it right before church and when I go to Rotary Club I shave. Other than that I don't."

On a more serious note, the groundbreaking was called a great day by Uland and the event fostered personal memories for him dating back to 1974 when as a senior in high school at Bloomfield he walked through the hospital door at an open house for the new facility.

"It was completely empty because it has just opened and I wouldn't have thought that in 1977 I was back here working during the summer. I still wouldn't have thought that I would be working here for 32 years starting in 1982. That history in itself kind of gives me a lot of investment here," he recalled.

Uland credited former administrator Malcom Clippinger with helping to launch his career by first hiring him in 1981 as assistant administrator.

Uland never left.

He later served as hospital administrator starting in November 1986.

"He (Clippinger) gave me a shot when I turned 23 and Mr. Frank Shelton, former administrator up at Union Hospital (in Terre Haute) helped me with a year of residency. Two of the best. Two of the best people in their profession and really you couldn't ask for any better preceptors and people," Uland said.

Uland said the project that will soon take shape has been in the planning process for a number of years.

"There's been a lot of participation from the doctors and from Lee Ann Camp, the director of nurses. She's done an excellent job. It (the project) is affecting the emergency room, so Lee Ann and Dr. Mike Gamble (director of the emergency room) have been instrumental in helping to plan that. It's been a group effort and I'm glad to see it's come to a point now where they are ready to start hammering the nails," the former administrator stated.

Uland said it's essential to upgrade the hospital because the hospital provides such a vital economic impact on the entire community with about 270 employees and a payroll over $1 million a month.

"All of the infrastructural, things like physician offices and nursing homes, probably wouldn't be around here if they didn't have a hospital here," Uland said. "We have to look at (federal) healthcare reforms that probably mean we have to have more areas to do some things with primary care and this is going to allow them to do that. It's time. It's time to make a change and I think the conservative (financial) approach that we've had over the years has been - let's be sure we have our ducks in a row and then advance.

"This (project) will provide good benefits for the area and for the employees and I've got to plug the medical staff and the board because they've been very instrumental in carrying this forth. I stopped over and wanted to make sure I talked with Dr. (Fred) Ridge and tell him that this probably wouldn't be here without him because he's been one of the main players over the years since I've been here. He's been very important to provide the primary care leadership that he and Dr. (Owen) Batterton have had over the years."

With a big grim, Uland gave a hug to his long-time secretary/administrative assistant Violet Newton, who was standing nearby.

Newton is now retired after working for Greene County General Hospital for more than 50 years.

She vividly remembers going to work that first day on May 24, 1956, at the old Freeman-Greene County Hospital, which formerly sat where Wendy's restaurant is located today.

She called her former boss the "Batman around the hospital."

He quickly replied with a smile, "She was my right hand."

Nick is assistant editor for the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by telephone at 847-4487 or 1-800-947-4487 or by e-mail at schneider.nick@gmail.com. Follow Nick on Twitter @GCDWSchneider .

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