On Tuesday, Nov. 18, the Blount Memorial Foundation and Community Outreach presented Distinguished Service Awards to Dr. Clay Crowder, Laura Harrill and Dr. Marvin Peterson (posthumously) for their significant service contributions to Blount Memorial Hospital over a sustained period of time. Awards were presented at the annual banquet at the Airport Hilton.
A Distinguished Service Award is the highest meritorious service award presented by the Foundation and Community Outreach. This year’s honorees join the elite group of 33 previous recipients, which includes former physicians, board of directors members, nurses, health educators and community volunteers.
Dr. Clay Crowder is a third-generation Blount County physician. After receiving his medical degree from the University of Tennessee in Memphis, he began his medical career with a one-year pediatric residency at the University of Tennessee Memorial Hospital.
Crowder’s commitment to children and adolescents, particularly in the area of behavioral health, was the guiding force of his exemplary career in private pediatric practice and as an active staff member of Blount Memorial Hospital.
At Blount Memorial, Crowder served as chief of the pediatric department from 1969-1972, then again from 1984-1986. He served on the audit committee (1969, 1972, 1974, 1975) and as the committee chair from 1975-1976; on the credentials committee (1970-1974) and as the committee chair from 1973-1974; on the ethics committee (1997 to present); and was the chairman of the ad hoc committee for the study of psychiatric services (1978-1988).
Crowder’s dedicated service to children extended into the community. His numerous volunteer positions have included being a board member of Child and Family Services of Blount County; as founder and board chairman of the St. Andrew’s Day School; and as a vestryman at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Maryville. In addition, Crowder served as pediatrician for Blount Memorial’s Good Samaritan Clinic, providing much-needed medical care to the area’s uninsured and underserved children.
Although he is retired, Crowder continues to challenge his peers to “listen with our ears and our hearts to what our patients have to say.”
He said, “I believe that the greater good can result when we the professionals listen with higher degrees of empathy than most of us use. We must be patient with our patients,” Crowder said.
Laura Harrill is a fervent advocate of healthy lifestyles with an uncanny ability to bring people together to work for the common good. For two decades, she faithfully served Blount Memorial Hospital and the Blount County community in a variety of professional and volunteer leadership roles.
Harrill began her career at the hospital in 1988 as a consultant in food and nutrition services, and she quickly was promoted to the position of wellness director. In this role, Harrill helped lead a vision for expanding the scope of wellness programming and creating a freestanding wellness center.
In 1996, she was named the director of Community Outreach at the hospital, and she undertook the leadership of Blount County’s first-ever Community Health Initiative. This collaborative effort involved conducting a community-wide needs assessment, identifying focus areas, and organizing teams of volunteers to work on specific health threats and problems. Under Harrill’s guidance, more than 180 community volunteers came together to address issues including substance abuse, teen pregnancy, mental health, suicide prevention and environmental health.
Several community organizations have benefited from Harrill’s positive, “can-do” attitude. She is a graduate of the Maryville Citizens Police Academy and the Blount County Sheriff Citizens Academy; a board member for the Little River Watershed Association and the Blount County chapter of the American Red Cross; and an active supporter of the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society and the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network.
The late Dr. Marvin D. Peterson was dedicated to surgical excellence. The University of Kansas Medical School graduate served on the active medical staff of Blount Memorial Hospital from 1968-1998.
As a leading member of the ad hoc committee for the new surgical suite planning in 1993, Peterson contributed hand-drawn design ideas and best-practice efficiency and technology suggestions based on his years of surgical experience. Many of Peterson’s ideas were incorporated in the building of the surgery center named for his mentor and friend, Dr. James Proffitt.
The impact of Peterson’s commitment to service was felt throughout the community. He served as president, vice-president and chairman of the Board of Censors and Blount County Medical Society, and as assistant clinical professor of surgery at the University of Tennessee Medical Center from 1969-1985. Peterson’s numerous volunteer and civic affiliations included the Boy Scouts of America, Friends of the Library, Kiwanis and Ducks Unlimited.