WAKEFIELD – In 1958 Donald L. Ford arrived from Philadelphia, Penn. to transform southern Rhode Island’s only major hospital, from a small country one to a modern medical facility. Revered for his care of patients and for the hospital staff, Ford, 89, of Narragansett, the former president and CEO of South County Hospital from 1958 to 1986 died Monday, Dec. 27 at the same hospital he devoted himself to in Wakefield.
“He was very committed and strong willed and dedicated to patients. He really understood that we were here for the patients,” Louis Giancola, the current CEO of the hospital said. “He cared how the patients were treated. He also understood that if you treated the staff well they’d treat the patients well.”
The late Ford came to South County from Philadelphia after working as a nurse and then deciding to work in healthcare administration. With his nursing background, he never forgot the importance of caring for a patient.
Giancola also said when Ford came to the hospital he transformed it.
“When he came here, it was a sleepy country hospital. He made it a modern one with new building facilities and he brought in board certified physicians,” Giancola said.
Under Ford, the hospital added three new wings, the Borda Wing, a post-acute care facility in 1997, the Read Wing, which is an intensive care unit, and labor and delivery suites in 1981, and the cardiac rehabilitation center in 1985. While bringing in more physicians, the hospital staff grew from 19 doctors to 68 doctors.
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