Dr. Patrick Withrow, outreach director for Baptist Health Paducah, was "honored and humbled" Tuesday by an education classroom named after him at the Carson-Myre Heart Center.
Around 100 colleagues, former patients, Baptist Health Foundation Paducah donors and others attended a dedication at Barnes Auditorium in the heart center, where attendees enjoyed refreshments, brief speeches and tours of the nearby Patrick J. Withrow Classroom. The hospital foundation recognized donors Tony and Michelle Hayden, Jim and Brenda Brown, and Billy and Mary Harper for their contributions -- three of whom addressed the crowd Tuesday about their experiences with Withrow, who is a retired cardiologist.
"These people gave in honor of Dr. Withrow," said Lora Croley, the foundation's director of philanthropy. "We're always about celebrating the spirit of philanthropy and this culture of gratitude that we celebrate at Baptist Health and to know that Dr. Withrow has impacted these people in different ways."
Jim Brown's story started more than 20 years ago when, Brown said, he had the "misfortune" of being diagnosed with a congenital heart murmur, but the fortune of getting Withrow as his cardiologist.
"He said: 'Jim, this is going to have to be replaced one of these days,'" Brown said of Withrow. "And he said, 'But you don't trade one problem for the other and we're going to take you through this whole thing and we'll get you through it.'"
Withrow told Brown he would ultimately need surgery.
"Fourteen years ago, I walked out of here with a new heart valve after having open-heart surgery," Brown said. "I attribute my quality of life that I have today, the ability to still win a golf tournament or two to God's provision, as well as the caring and compassionate care that Dr. Withrow gave me all those years."
Billy Harper discussed Withrow's community education efforts, describing Withrow as "taking it to heart" to help youth live a clean, straight life, while Michelle Hayden spoke about Withrow's care during her husband Tony's heart problems. She extended a "very heartfelt thank you" to Withrow for making a difference in the lives of her family and many others.
The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky's vice president-external affairs, Bonnie Hackbarth, also spotlighted Withrow's efforts as a member of its community advisory council, for which he serves as a liaison between communities and the foundation.
"Pat Withrow is with the people," she said. "He's with kids. He's with parents, teachers. He's with community leaders all the time. I need him to come to Frankfort? He's there. It's a four-hour drive, five-hour drive. He's there. He's doing the Lord's work."
Hackbarth said Withrow's making a difference, singling out his efforts to raise the state cigarette tax and overall work to improve health.
"Last year, the first year that tax was in effect, 36 million fewer packs of cigarettes were sold in Kentucky than the year before," Hackbarth said. "That's a 10% drop. Now nationwide, as you know cigarette sales have been going down, but nationwide they've only dropped 6%."
Attendees later filed out into the hallway to get a closeup look at the Withrow classroom, which features learning space, a variety of medical mannequins and other equipment for students. It's used for different classes, such as Medicaid Nurse Aide (MNA), EKG and phlebotomy.
Withrow told everyone he was honored by this recognition, adding that Baptist Health's Christ-centered mission would be "virtually impossible" without backing, engagement and support of its entire staff, employees, volunteers, hospital foundation, hospital board and the administration.
"We plan to meet the needs of our patients with compassionate and coordinated care," he said. "We also take very seriously our mission to provide health education to our community, (and) disease prevention -- both mental and physical disease -- starting with our youth."