The rededication of the North Nurses Wing at Barnesville Hospital in memory of John Sawvel and Clara Groves was held on Tuesday, May 9 in the main lobby.
Speakers included Hospital CEO David Phillips, Chief of Staff Dr. David Hilliard, Director of Quality and Risk Management Jane Hall, R.N. BSN, and John's son, Jeff Sawvel.
Sawvel was described as a man dedicated to both his family and the hospital, who had a "tremendous sense of humor" and a mischievous streak.
"John meant so much, to not just this organization, just to Barnesville Hospital or the community of Barnesville, but to so many that have crossed his path over the years," Phillips said. "The names Groves and Sawvel are part of the fabric of what makes this organization and what makes this community. Without the two of them, I don't know if you could say that there would be a Barnesville Hospital."
Phillips said Groves was instrumental in raising funds for the hospital and making sure that others supported the hospital. Through her dynamic leadership, 45 Twigs were established in 1954, comprised of 1,000 women who worked to successfully raise funds for hospital equipment and expansion. Groves served as president of the Barnesville Hospital Auxiliary from 1946-1953 and joined the Board of Trustees in 1940, serving in various capacities including president and vice president.
When Clara's daughter, Mytha Jean, died at an early age, Clara stepped in to raise her grandchildren, John and Jane Sawvel. John followed his grandmother's example and worked throughout his life to benefit his community and the hospital, serving it for 55 years.
John served as the Chief Financial Officer, then as Controller. Throughout his career there he played an active role in the expansion, remodeling, upgrading and reorganization of the hospital. He was nominated twice for the Ohio Hospital Association Albert E. Dyes Healthcare Worker of the Year and was twice named Barnesville Hospital Employee of the Year. In 2012 he was selected as the Barnesville Area Chamber of Commerce's "Employee of the Year". John also served on the hospital's board of trustees.
"As David said, John had such a tremendous impact on Barnesville Hospital. He was such a huge part of our lives and we all miss him," Dr. Hilliard said. "John dedicated most of his adult life to this hospital. . . John's life here, the institution, the people he worked with were all family an the people who came through the doors as patients were all important to him. John had two sets of family. He had his real family and he had this family, and he was dedicated to both of them."
John's son, Jeff thanked all who came on behalf of his family. He said that a person's work life often gets intwined with their home life. Jeff told stories of the many ways the family was involved with the hospital, and his father's dedication to the hospital. "I think the hospital was so important to dad because of the people who worked here," Jeff said. "He took the time to get to know people and their problems and concerns, no matter what area of the hospital they worked in, not just about their work, but their personal lives as well." He said his father's relationship with his coworkers was a big reason why he stayed there for 55 years.
Phillips said it was Sawvel's fiscal conservatism that allowed the hospital to survive. "It was because of the work that he did and the wise decisions that he made each and everyday, supporting the work that was done here, that we were able to sustain up to this point," he said.
Phillips continued, "I never heard him referred to as 'Mr. Sawvel'. It wasn't out of disrespect. It was what he wanted. He became a friend to every single person that crossed his path. He was a father figure to many - not just his immediate family, but his hospital family as well." Phillips said Sawvel was a friend and mentor to many and was known for his advice.
When Jane Hall spoke she said many called him "Uncle John" because he was "the go-to-guy when you had a problem or needed advice".
"He was a teacher," said Hall. "The kind of teacher that you learn just by observing him and you didn't even know you were learning. He was respectful to all and respected by all who knew him."
Stories were told by Phillips, Hilliard, Hall and Jan Chambers, director of development of the Barnesville Hospital Foundation about Sawvel's jokes and pranks.
"The medical surgical unit was expanded in the 1970s and during that time it became known as the Clara Groves Memorial Wing. We found it fitting as the administration and as the board of trustees to, as much as I talk about the fabric of the two embodying the hospital, we wanted to weave those two together. So forever forward, our medical surgical unit shall be known as the Clara Groves and John Sawvel wing of the Barnesville Hospital," Phillips said. "
"We have a lot of plans to finish renovating that wing for the remainder of this year. Through the Barnesville Hospital Foundation we have raised the funds to renovate all the rooms," Philips said, adding that the corridor and the nurses station will also be renovated. "I want to thank all of those families and individuals that contributed. Without their generosity, things like this would not be possible."
Patient room donors were recognized and include: Barnesville Hospital Auxiliary, Carol Carpenter and family, Francis Plumly and family in memory of Nancy A. Plumly, Janet and Bill Childers in honor of the laboratory staff, Jerry and Lova Ebbert family in memory of Hollis and Thelma Kemp, Karen and John Piersol and family in memory of Elizabeth L. Idding, and the Tom Claugus and Beatriz Illescas Putzeys Foundation for a Better World.
The ceremony concluded with the unveiling of portraits of John and Clara and tours of a renovated patient room. Phillips said the portraits with plaques bearing their names will be included in the wing when the renovations are complete.
"There will never be a time when we will allow the community or the organization who walk these halls to forget what these two individuals have given to make life a better place in Barnesville and to make the patient's experience better in Barnesville," Phillips said.
"Grandma Clara and dad are just two of the multitude of people who have given so tirelessly of their time and their efforts for the vibrancy of this hospital which is so important to this area. Those that continue to do so today and those that will do so in the future, will keep alive their spirits in these halls. There is no greater tribute to them than those efforts," Jeff Sawvel said.