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EDITORIAL: Thumbs up to partners who helped

Thumbs up to HopeHealth, which cut the ribbon Thursday in front of its first-rate facility on North Irby Street. Speeches were followed by a tour of the impressive medical plaza, which opened in February but already is set to expand. This is on the grounds of a former junkyard, where thousands of tons of contaminated soil and junk that included an airplane had to be removed. An eyesore has become a jewel. HopeHealth provides “health care for those who can afford it and those who can’t,” said Lathran J. Woodard, the chief executive officer of the South Carolina Primary Care Association. The facility was “born out of the need that the community saw,” she said. “Our common enemy is a lack of quality health care for everyone.” The word “partnership” was repeated often in speeches. City, county, state and private alliances were a key to success. The Drs. Bruce and Lee Foundation played an important role in funding. Rather than competing against McLeod Regional Medical Center and Carolinas Health System, HopeHealth complements the large entities. The CEO at Carolinas Hospital Systems is a HopeHealth board member. McLeod runs the radiology department at HopeHealth. Primary care is the primary mission at HopeHealth. The goal is to keep people out of the emergency rooms at the other hospitals. Lots of credit was given by the speakers. Carl Humphries, the CEO at HopeHealth, and Darryl Bridges, the outgoing board chairman, deservedly heard their names mentioned often. When Bridges joined the board in 2010, HopeHealth served 3,000 patients. It now serves 35,000 patients. Bottom line: “We removed a blight that divided our community, and in its place” is a facility that “brings the community together,” Florence Mayor Stephen J. Wukela said.

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