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The work of Drug Topics contributor Truman Lastinger, former board chair of Grady General Hospital in Cairo, Ga., was commemorated recently with the unveiling of his portrait and a ceremony of appreciation.
On February 28, Grady General Hospital in Cairo, Georgia, formally recognized Drug Topics contributor Truman Lastinger for 50 years of dedicated public service with the unveiling of a commemorative portrait and a ceremony of thanks.
Truman Lastinger and his wife (left), with the artistThe first and only
Lastinger’s association with the hospital began in 1963 when he became the hospital’s first pharmacist, a position he occupied in addition to his full-time practice as a community pharmacist.
When he joined the hospital, 28 beds served a county of 19,000 residents; nurses and LPNs did the dispensing; and the doctors on staff eventually dwindled from five to one as each one left, as Lastinger said, “for greener pastures.” The hospital acquired a reputation as a “Band-Aid station” that patients tried to avoid, telling ambulance drivers to take them to “a real hospital.”
Through his drugstore, Lastinger was tirelessly engaged in service to his community, whether it was advocating for rural public health needs or dispensing polio vaccines throughout the county. His well-known perseverance and commitment led to his appointment to the hospital’s board by county commissioners after he had served for 15 years as hospital pharmacist.
As chairman of the hospital board, Lastinger set about to put the hospital on a stronger footing. With another veteran board member, he worked for several years to negotiate a lease with Archbold Hospital in neighboring Thomasville, Georgia, making Grady General part of an integrated healthcare delivery system and expanding its services significantly. The resulting association has endured for 27 years and turned Grady General into a 60-bed hospital serving a county of 23,000 residents. It is now recognized as one of the top 100 rural hospitals in the United States.
“The betterment of the community”
After 50 years of ceaseless devotion to the public good, Lastinger reluctantly stepped down from his post on the hospital board in 2013 for reasons of health. An editorial published at the time in the local newspaper, the Cairo Messenger, noted, “We need more citizens like Truman Lastinger, who dedicate their time and talents for the betterment of the community without a desire for self-promotion, gratification, or profit.” Those sentiments were echoed in February at the hospital’s ceremony of appreciation and thanks, when his portrait was given a permanent place of honor.
Truman Lastinger’s story of his life in pharmacy, “Farming to Pharmacy: Memories of a Sharecropper’s Son,” is available at amazon.com.