Chamber recognizes frontline healthcare workers, area physician as Citizens of the Year at virtual Annual Meeting
On Thursday, healthcare workers from the largest employer in Morgan County and a Decatur-born pulmonologist who continues to serve as a community leader during the pandemic were recognized for their dedication and compassion over the past year with the Miss Athelyne C. Banks Citizen of the Year awards at the 89th Annual Meeting of the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce.
The more than 1,500 members of the Decatur Morgan Hospital workforce were named the 2020 Citizens of the Year, honoring their around-the-clock commitment to caring for the public during the pandemic and making sure the community received the best care available as the now-yearlong pandemic unfolded. During the presentation of the award, past Citizen of the Year recipient C. Wallace Terry of Decatur shared that the hospital staff “put the needs of our community ahead of themselves, and in many cases their own families. They worried when they went home if they unknowingly would be infecting their family. They had sleepless nights bearing the weight of Covid-19’s impact on the people they were serving.” He went on to share how the hospital was a primary source of public health information reaching the community, and how equipping the public was critical in mitigating the spread of the virus. Accepting the award on behalf of the hospital staff were intensive care unit nurse Shannon Alexander and respiratory therapist Thomas Cocke.
Later in the Annual Meeting, Dr. James E. Boyle of Decatur was recognized as the 2021 Citizen of the Year. The Austin High School graduate received a Bachelor of Science in computer science from the University of Alabama in Birmingham. He went on to receive his medical degree from UAB, and later completed his internship and residency at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond. Boyle completed his fellowship in pulmonology and critical care medicine at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and was a research fellow at the National Institute of Environmental Sciences in Durham, N.C., before moving back to Decatur to open his medical practice. He has served as president of the medical staff at Decatur Morgan Hospital, as well as serving other committee assignments, and currently serves as hospital medical advisor and medical director of the intensive care units. Boyle is board certified in internal medicine, pulmonary medicine, critical care medicine, and hospice and palliative care medicine. He is a member of the Society of Critical Care Medicine, American College of Chest Physicians, a member of the prestigious Omicron Delta Kappa Circle, the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, and received the John A. Caddell award in 2014 from the Decatur Morgan Hospital Foundation for service to the community. When presenting the award to Boyle, past award recipient Dr. William Sims commented on the deep passion Boyle has for the community and wanting to make sure patients were cared for like they were family. Sims said, when talking to Boyle’s coworkers, they shared “he was a wonderful, caring, compassionate, empathetic, and responsive physician, that he was a good listener, that he was considerate, that he was an advocate for both patients and for the hospital, that he was dedicated, and very importantly they said that he was the same person every day and every night.” Boyle and his wife, Martha, have two children, Nicholas and Elizabeth.
Held virtually to comply with social distancing and public health guidelines, the 2021 event also served as the Chamber’s 88th Annual Meeting, which was not held in April 2020 due to the pandemic and the State of Alabama’s “Safer at Home” order.
Ms. Banks – for whom the award is named – devoted 42 years of her life to education, serving 29 of them with Decatur City Schools. She was a public school teacher, the first woman principal at Carver Elementary School and a public school administrator. The award honors a member of our community whose life reflects the dedication, service and faithfulness to Decatur modeled in the example of Miss Banks. Chamber members submitted nominations for the award, and applications were judged by a committee of past recipients.