Centennial Baptist


Baptist Story Speaks to City’s Rich Past

This article originally appeared in Memphis Daily News, January 9, 2012

Baptist Story Speaks to City's Rich Past

The making of modern Memphis is an ongoing story that now has some age on it.

And with age we all rediscover some important things we probably already knew but had our doubts about before.

The centennial of Baptist Memorial Health Care Corp. is a reminder of who we really are as a community.

All of us either are or know someone who works in the city's health care industry.

Calling it an industry, however, doesn't even begin to take in what Baptist and the other institutions mean in giving us a clear picture of what Memphis really is.

Picture the largest city for 200 miles in any direction without Baptist and Methodist.

Their presence is a daily reminder that Memphis is, for so many reasons, still the capital city of this three-state region.

That's an easy claim to mock and ridicule if you look for a definition rooted in politics or power. You won't find any grand edifice on a hill in this capital.

We define the claim to include a medical center with a mission that never loses sight of the real needs of the people of the region. It is not a capital that is a destination for those who have reached a pinnacle and seek to use that advantage to acquire more for themselves.

Memphis is a capital where people come at their worst moments, when they haven't been able to summon the hope that was once abundant in their lives. This is personal despair of an intrusive life altering strength.

What our institutions, including Baptist, do is help them recover some of what was lost and become stronger without denying new realities.

After 100 years, BMHCC is now a significant partner in our medical center's push to further affect those realities through the city's development as more of a research center.

It is an exciting time that we suggest also bears a resemblance to an earlier part of the city's history as a medical center.

BMHCC president and CEO Stephen Reynolds talks in this week's cover story about the hospital's growing alignment with physician practices - growing its medical group in 18 months from 40 physicians to more than 300 in three states.

We are reminded of Dr. Willis Campbell's work more than 100 years ago in our city that is the foundation for orthopedics still today. Campbell did not work in the isolation of the theoretical abstract image of research. What drove his research and his teaching and the textbooks that still bear his name was what he saw in his practice.

It is our compassion and our dedication on a daily basis to its advancement that should be the cornerstone for a capital that teaches others to build and extend its boundaries to take in their communities.