Renovations to an area of Northside Hospital-Forsyth honor the memory of a late county leader.
Lynn Jackson, administrator of the hospital, said renovations to the Bennett Education Center were recently completed after an eight-week construction period.
The center, which is used by hospital staff, as well as a wide range of community groups for meetings, is named for Everett Bennett, who passed away on March 2 at age 78, and his widow, Teresa.
Jackson said the center opened 13 years ago.
“It is in really constant use, and when I say constant, I mean really constant,” she said. “It has served us so well, but boy it had taken a beating, so we were glad to refurbish it.”
Jackson said the facility, which can accommodate gatherings of up to about 100 people, is used by the hospital for blood drives and trainings and by “many, many outside groups.”
“It’s open for nonprofits at no charge, so we have everything from AARP, [which] does their driving classes there, [to] support groups, and two of the civic clubs meet there,” she said. “We do kick-off events for a lot of the nonprofits here, so it’s just been the host to many large and small meetings.
“It’s just still constantly used Monday through Monday, it’s seven days a week, and I would say practically 24 hours a day.”
She said the eight-week renovation period allowed the center to receive “a facelift.”
“We kind of modernized it a little bit,” she said. “For instance, it does have … one of those movable wall partitions. Well, we got an electric one so that we can do it electronically rather than it being [manual].”
Other improvements include a ceiling-mounted projector and electric blinds on the windows.
“And we modernized the kitchen area — just things that would hopefully make it more comfortable for all the people we serve there,” she said.
A private ceremony will be held later this month to officially “rededicate” the facility, during which Bennett’s widow, Teresa, and other family members will be honored.
“Maybe we can be a little lift to their sorrow if only for a few moments,” Jackson said.
Teresa Bennett said she’s thrilled to see the facility renewed.
“It was very widely used and I’m thankful for that and I’m very grateful that they would go ahead and renovate it,” she said. “It’s a very exciting time for me.”
She noted that her husband knew of the planned renovations before his death.
“He was very excited about it and he actually would have been there because that was one of the things he was so proud of in Forsyth County,” Teresa Bennett said.
Jackson said she was happy she got to share the renovation plans with Everett Bennett before his death.
“He was so excited,” Jackson said. “Because he was so kind, he would say, ‘Now Lynn, the furniture in there’s nice, but it’s had some wear and tear.’
“I would say, ‘Yeah it has Mr. Bennett, you’re exactly right.’”
Jackson said she’s honored that the center recognizes the Bennett family since they have always been supportive of improving medical facilities in the county.
She recalled how Everett Bennett served for many years on the board of Georgia Baptist Medical Center.
“He advocated so long for Georgia Baptist to purchase the old hospital site [on Samaritan Drive],” she said. “They did not see the diamond in the rough that Mr. Bennett saw, but he was quite convincing — as only Mr. Bennett could be in his quiet but firm self.”
Eventually the group did buy the site and he later advocated for them to build the current hospital at Hwy. 20 and Ga. 400, which opened in 1999.
Teresa Bennett noted that her husband was especially pleased with anything concerning the hospital.
“I don’t know that proud is a good word,” she said. “But of the accomplishments he that he did, I think that was at the top of them.”
Jackson agreed, noting that she is sorry Everett Bennett won’t be able to see the final renovations to the education center.
“Mr. and Mrs. Bennett both were always strong advocates that this community would build on a very strong medical tradition,” she said. “He was so happy with the hospital. I miss him every day, I do.
“He was just a great man — a statesman, a true statesman.”