Community mourns loss of longtime driving force for health care in Georgetown County

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Francis B. “Jeep” Ford Sr., a driving force for health care in Georgetown County and surrounding areas, died Monday.

Ford served as a member of the board of trustees for what is now Tidelands Health for more than three decades until 2009.

Through his dedication and commitment to his community, Ford played a pivotal role in developing and expanding health care services offered in the Tidelands region – transforming the health of the community he loved to call home. He served on the health system’s volunteer board of trustees from 1976 until he retired in 2009, including 25 years as chairman.

“Jeep Ford’s name is synonymous with health care in Georgetown County and across our region,” said Bruce Bailey, president and CEO of Tidelands Health. “The breadth and depth of health care services offered in this region today are directly tied to Mr. Ford’s dedication, perseverance and desire to help his fellow community members live better lives through better health.”

The Ford name has long been synonymous with health care not only in Georgetown County but across South Carolina. Ford’s father, Albert W. Ford, was commander of the local American Legion Post that in the 1940s initiated plans to build what is now Tidelands Georgetown Memorial Hospital. And his uncle and namesake, Dr. Francis Arthur Bell, was one of the first physicians to practice at the hospital.

Today, Ford’s son, Francis “Jeepy” Ford Jr., continues the Ford family’s legacy of service as a member of the Tidelands Health board of trustees.

Under Jeep Ford’s leadership, Tidelands Health transformed from a single hospital to a regional health system. His commitment to the provision of high-quality health care for the people of Georgetown and surrounding counties is seen in facilities that now dot the landscape – from Tidelands Georgetown and Tidelands Waccamaw Community Hospital to physician offices, imaging centers and the region’s only medical fitness center, Tidelands HealthPoint Center for Health and Fitness.

The Tidelands Health Francis B. Ford Cancer Treatment Center in Georgetown bears his name – a tribute to a man whose passion and perseverance truly transformed the health and lives of the entire community.

Ford was a recipient of the South Carolina Hospital Association’s Distinguished Trustee Award in 2000. In 2005, he received the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Earlier this year, SCHA honored Ford as one of the “100 Faces of Healthcare” in South Carolina.

“We extend our love and condolences to Mr. Ford’s devoted wife, Weezie, and the entire Ford family,” said J. Edward Norris III, chairman of the Tidelands Health board of trustees. “We hope it is some comfort to them to know his legacy will endure across our health system, in the lives of our patients and throughout the communities we serve.”

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