HMH retiring leader honored

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By Becky Barnes

Darwin Root has made it his career to see that health care needs of Harrison and surrounding counties continue to be met. It’s a source of pride.

Now, after 13 years at the helm of the hospital, Root is retiring.

“I believe the good news is that there will always be a need for a health care facility in this area,” Root said. “And, I believe that HMH will be a part of that.”

During Root’s tenure at HMH, he has seen numerous changes, including two major expansion projects. The first project was a 14,500 square foot addition to the Harrison Memorial Professional Arts Building in 2000, which also included a renovation of the hospital’s front lobby.

The second project was one that took in several projects. It started with the selling of the long-term beds in the south wing to Trilogy. The south wing was demolished to make room for a 45,000 foot expansion and a renovation of the existing facility. The expansion included moving the emergency room to the new section, centralized outpatient services and provided for more women’s services in a designated suite.

Root said the successes of HMH have been due to the people behind it.

“I have enjoyed working with the physicians, the board and the employees,” Root said. “They are dedicated people who have made HMH what it is today. The quality of the physicians we’ve had here I would stack up against any place.”

Harrison Memorial Hospital has over 70 physicians in its speciality clinic and consulting staff.

Root said he sees HMH continuing to pursue cardiology improvements and has applied for a CathLab. He also said the affiliation with the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center has been beneficial to HMH and area residents.

He said he is leaving the hospital in the capable hands of Sheila Currans, a Harrison County native who has been at HMH for many years. In fact, Root said, she was on the selection committee that interviewed him for the administrator’s job in 1995.

Root and wife Linda, a registered nurse, came to Harrison County from Michigan via Minnesota.

He laughed when he told of his first encounter with southern living. “Two cars were sitting in the middle of the street (with their drivers) talking,” he said. “At first I was disturbed, but then I realized it was the way of life … and I liked it.”

Root said it didn’t take he and Linda long to settle in to Harrison County.

“We are very pleased with the hospitality, with the genuine friendships that we’ve made here.”

The couple will be staying in Cynthiana. Root said they are building a new house in Country Club Estates, which he is looking forward to doing some of the finishing work for.

Root’s late father, Everet, was a factory worker, handyman and farmer.

“I learned a lot from him,” Root said, adding that those skills will be put to use in the building of his home.

In addition to looking forward to woodworking in his retirement, Root said he is anxious to spend more time with his children and grandchildren.

He and Linda have three children: Julie Fernandez, Deanna Bradley and Daniel Root. They also have three grandchildren. They live from coast to coast, Baltimore to San Francisco. His mother Bernetta lives in Michigan.

Root said if he could leave any words of wisdom it would be a philosophy his father instilled in him: “to believe that nothing is impossible – be persistent and try harder.”

He is a member of Cynthiana Presbyterian Church, the Rotary Club, Harrison County Community Foundation and numerous professional associations.

Root was honored at a reception for his retirement on Sunday. He will continue as the hospital administrator until Jan. 2.