Officials with Good Samaritan Hospital broke ground Tuesday morning on a training and education center for its new residency program, a building named for one of its most beloved physicians.

“We aren't here to mourn or to be sad,” said Gary Hackney, director of the hospital's foundation, told a large crowd gathered at the site of the soon-to-be Dr. Charles C. Hedde Health Education Center at Seventh and Nicholas streets. “This (day) should be seen as a beginning, a commencement, a dream come true for our colleague, our friend, our physician.”

Hedde, who died two years ago, was the hospital's leader in developing the relationship with IU Health and establishing the partnership with the new Indiana University Medical Center in Evansville that will bring resident physicians to Good Samaritan in the fields of psychiatry and internal medicine.

By 2022, according to hospital president and CEO Rob McLin, 44 residents will be “walking the halls” of GSH.

The health education center will serve, primarily, as a training facility for the residents taking part in that Graduate Medical Education program, although officials have said it could be made available for the public to rent as well.

McLin told the crowd that the hospital added the word “education” to its mission because of Hedde's dedication and influence. Hedde knew, McLin said, that the hospital needed to be able to recruit and retain “the brightest doctors” in order to best serve the community and its patients.

He called the residency program the hospital's “single greatest opportunity” for growth. And the fact that more than 70% of residents typically stay in their community of residency, it's a recruitment tool “greater than we could imagine,” McLin said.

“So today we look forward to an era where teaching and training new doctors takes center stage,” he said.

Hedde's son, Charles C. Hedde II, said his dad was known for applying the same philosophy to both his personal and professional lives: Make today better than yesterday and tomorrow better than today, he would always say.

Even in the midst of own difficult diagnosis of cancer, that “simple yet profound response” was the answer to an “impossible question,” Hedde II said.

“He said to us, 'I want to make today better than yesterday and tomorrow better than today,'” he said. “It was a very intentional and instructional response.”

Even at the end of his life, Hedde II said, his father was a leader.

“He led and instructed just as he hoped to do on this very ground,” he said.

Hackney and the foundation have been leading the charge on fundraising efforts over the last year, and even though they're still about $250,000 short of his $2 million goal, hospital administrators are confident enough that they're ready to get moving on the project.

Hackney said when Hedde died following a brief illness in August of 2017 — the groundbreaking ceremony marked the two-year anniversary of his death — the community was left reeling. Many, he said, reached out looking for ways to honor his legacy, and those funds were then funneled toward the health education center project, hence their decision to build it in his name.

A recent fundraising event at the Evansville Country Club, of which Hedde was a member, garnered more than $100,000 in donations as well. It's possible, Hackney said, more is possible from that effort.

The 4,000-square-foot facility is anticipated to cost upwards of $2.5 million to build, but Hackney has said once he reaches the $2 million mark, the remaining $500,000 has been committed by an undisclosed party.

Anyone still interested in making a donation to the construction of the health education center should contact the foundation office at 812-885-3192.

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