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Dedication draws large crowd

Standing room only does not come close to describing the scene at Bryan Whitfield Memorial Hospital as family, friends and former patients of Drs. Reese M. Holifield and N. Earl Perret Jr. joined hospital staff and administrators as they dedicated two suites in honor and memory of the two doctors.

“I had 100 chairs set up in the lobby and they were full, people were standing and others couldn’t get in,” Chrissy Brooker, marketing director at the hospital, said. “I couldn’t even begin to guess how many people were there.”

The hospital renamed the surgical suite in memory of Dr. Reese M. Holifield, who retired two years ago after 48 years of service to the hospital and community. Last September, Holifield died, leaving a legacy that included more than 20,000 surgeries and 5,000 births.

“He was my doctor,” Anne Murray of Pine Hill said. “All those surgeries he performed on bones and other things, he did four surgeries on me. He made that hospital,” she said.

Mike Marshall, Administrator and CEO of the hospital, agreed. “Dr. Holifield pretty much put surgery on the board here.”

Holifield was probably one of the longest serving doctors at Bryan Whitfield, having begun his tenure there only two years after the hospital opened its doors.

“The hospital opened in 1954, Dr. Holifield started in 1956,” Brooker said. “And these guys did more than just surgery. They were general practitioners who just happened to specialize in something. They did everything from delivering babies to taking care of pneumonia patients.”

Perret was not far behind, however, having served at the hospital and in the community for more than 36 years. During that time, he delivered 5,500 babies and performed 7,000 endoscopies. For that reason, the hospital named the endoscopy suite in his name.

“You’d be hard pressed to find someone who, between the two doctors, hasn’t been directly or indirectly affected by them,” Marshall said.

“Their dedication was not only to the hospital, but to the community and everyone who lives here,” Brooker agreed.

Apparently, so did the community, as several hundred people showed up to show their respect and love for the two doctors.

“It was huge,” Brooker said. “I was extremely pleased with the turnout.”