Vaughan Regional Medical Center lights tree on hospital front lawn

Published 7:26 pm Friday, December 2, 2016

Vaughan Regional Medical Center brought an old tradition back to life Thursday night with the lighting of a nearly 30-foot tall Christmas tree.treelighting3_bd-web

Years ago the hospital would light up a tree on its front lawn, and after several years of not having the tradition, it’s back.

Maegan Austin, physician and community relations director for Vaughan, started working on reviving the tradition in May. Austin said employees have asked about the tree year after year, and with new CEO David McCormack on board, she figured it was a good time to renew the holiday tradition.

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“He said yes, so that’s where it kind of got started,” Austin said. “We’re really excited to have it back, and hopefully we can continue to do it annually.”

After listening to Christmas carols from the Selma High School Choir, a crowd of doctors, nurses and community members stared up in awe, as the tree came to life with 1,000 red and green lights.

Hank Fowler, director of plant operations at the hospital, helped get the tree in place, and it was no easy task.

Fowler and five or six of his staff members borrowed a 30-foot trailer and a truck from a local contractor and drove to Stephens Christmas Tree Farm, which is almost in Autaugaville.Fowler and his crew loaded the tree up and brought it back to the hospital, and then the fun started.

“We had to rent a lift. We had to set it up and put water in it. This thing drinks five gallons of water every day,” Fowler chuckled. “It took us about two days to get it up and get it decorated.”

After putting the finishing touches on the tree, Monday’s storm brought strong winds with it and blew the tree over.

“We spent all day today (Thursday) getting it back up and getting it re-anchored and putting lights back where they needed to be,” Fowler said. “My guys really enjoyed it because it was a break from the routine. We had a lot of fun. It’s been nice, and we’ve had a lot of people expressing their appreciation for us putting it up.”

McCormack said the tree means a lot to hospital employees, but he hopes it means even more for patients and the community.

“Our mission is serve people. And this time of year is about giving and the spirit of serving, and that sort of represents that,” he said. “A lot of times we forget that. Everybody gets wrapped up into that part of it … and this brings that part back.”

McCormack said he hopes to keep the tradition alive and growing for years to come.