Piedmont Medical Center celebrated its 30th anniversary Tuesday in appropriate fashion. There were balloons, several cakes and a cupcakes arranged to form the numerals 3 and 0. There was even a chorus of “Happy Birthday,” led by Piedmont’s CEO Bill Masterton.
Most important, however, were the memories of Feb. 12, 1983, the day York General closed and Piedmont opened.
On hand to share those memories were those who made the move and continue to work at Piedmont. All told, 45 employees who helped in “The Big Move” are still working at Piedmont. Several more retired employees joined Tuesday’s party, recalling the day York County – for the briefest of time – had two operational hospitals.
“We were so excited,” said Elaine Guyton, then the director of nursing. “We were offering the community a brand new, wonderful care center. We were so busy.”
“Busy, but fun,” chimed in Pansy Yates, who helped develop videos showing how the patients would be transferred from one hospital to the other. The videos were shown on patient TVs weeks before the move.
And for the most part, said Guyton, Yates, and others, that’s how it went. There were caravans of ambulances that moved patients from York General to Piedmont.
Many arrived at Piedmont not knowing exactly where to go, but they found staffers wearing blue T-shirts with the message “I was part of the big move” willing to help.
“There was a ton of excitement and then a letdown when it happened,” said Benny Marett, a registered nurse. “There was a letdown because there were no problems.”
Patt Lockner was one of the last to leave York General. She kept the emergency room open, directing most cases to the Piedmont. Several patients, however, got their treatments at York General that day.
Marett’s mom, Ola, was in charge of obstetrics. The babies generally moved with their mothers but he remembers that his mom carried the last baby out of York General herself.
Lockner said she and her colleagues loved the new facility because of the technology, the expanded space and the ability to serve more patients. She and several others noted, though, it was the same sets of hands providing the treatment.
Masterton said having 45 staff members who have been there since day one “is refreshing. They made this building a hospital. ... This is a calling for them; it is more than a job.”
About the only thing that didn’t go according to plan, the longtime employees recalled, was that within hours of U.S. Sen Strom Thurmond cutting a strip of gauze to open the facility, a pregnant woman came to the emergency room.
“There was a baby born that day,” Guyton said. “You couldn’t plan for that.”