Clarendon County hospital gets a new name

Clarendon Memorial Hospital, an institution in Clarendon County for 65 years, is now McLeod Health Clarendon.

An agreement between Clarendon Health System Board of Trustees and McLeod Health was finalized Tuesday, allowing the Florence-based company to officially take over operation of the hospital. During an event which marked the transition Tuesday at the hospital, employees were welcomed into McLeod Health and given new name badges to indicate the new reality at the 81-bed hospital.

Carrie Anna Strange, director of the McLeod Foundation and public communications, said the event was enthusiastically received.

“People came in who were not on duty,” she said. “They wanted to be part of a special day for the hospital and the community.”

Rob Colones, President and CEO of McLeod Health, said the agreement is similar to several others that McLeod has undertaken in recent years.

“We believe this relationship creates a strong foundation for the strengthening and future growth of quality health care services for residents from the midlands to the coast,” he said.

Clarendon Health System Board will continue to oversee three nursing homes in Clarendon County: Lake Marion and Windsor Manor in Summerton and Lake Moultrie in St. Stephen, according to Jim Darby, chairman of the CHS Board.

Like many rural hospitals in South Carolina and across the nation, the Manning hospital had been struggling financially for several years because of the current health care environment. Darby said the transition should provide a boost to health care in the area.

“McLeod shares the nonprofit mission of Clarendon Health System,” Darby said. “We are glad to be able to ensure continued stability of health care for the families in our communities. The people of Clarendon County and beyond will benefit from the services, expertise and technology available through the resources of McLeod Health.”

Charles Bethea, chairman of the McLeod Health Board of Trustees, said the health systems share a common tradition of commitment to service.

“Both health systems share a long history of dedication in providing access to health services for our communities,” he said. “Clarendon Hospital was born in 1951, during the dramatic post World War II boom and celebrates a 65-year history. This year, McLeod will observe the 110th Anniversary of its founding in Florence by Dr. F.H. McLeod.”

Debbie Locklair is administrator of the hospital. Locklair is also a regional administrator for McLeod and has administered hospitals in Darlington, Dillon and Cheraw. She said she was excited about assuming her duties at McLeod Health Clarendon.

“The people of this community take a lot of pride in this hospital,” she said. “They are proud that it is here and it is important to the community.”

The Clarendon Sun will publish an article profiling Locklair in the Thursday, July 21 edition of The Sumter Item.

According to a McLeod Health news release, McLeod will assume the debt obligations of Clarendon Health, which will result in a reduction of approximately eight mills in taxes for Clarendon County property owners.

McLeod will operate the hospital, wellness center, nine medical practices and the Cypress Center meeting and banquet hall. McLeod will also manage the hospital-owned and operated EMS service, which is under contract to Clarendon County.

The McLeod news release said the organization hopes to minimize the effect of the changeover on staff but will assess current positions.

“If roles are consolidated or reduced, openings at the local level and throughout the McLeod system will be reviewed as possible alternatives for those individuals impacted by adjustments in staffing,” the release said.

In addition to McLeod Health Clarendon, McLeod Health operates McLeod Regional Medical Center in Florence, McLeod Cheraw, McLeod Darlington, McLeod Dillon, McLeod Loris and McLeod Seacoast (North Myrtle Beach), the release said. McLeod also operates Urgent Care Centers in Florence and Darlington and nearly 85 medical practices throughout the 15 counties in the McLeod Health service area, according to the release.