CRESTVIEW — It was more of a family reunion than a reception for a favorite patient’s kin at North Okaloosa Medical Center's Andrews Institute.
Wednesday afternoon, unit staff, hospital and institute administrators gathered to express gratitude for a $13,000 gift from Crestview resident John Averett Sr. and his children. Their donation was on behalf of Averett’s late wife, Marguerite Wallace McClure Averett.
As physical therapists showed them the new equipment procured with the donation, the Averetts presented gifts of a coffee the staff likes.
They also had another gift.
John Averett handed unit director Carol Richards an envelope with a $15,000 check.
"We weren't expecting that!" therapist Diana Hammonds said, adding the family's initial gift was very generous.
'She was like family'
John Averett Sr. said the family gave the gifts at his late wife's direction.
"She told me to do this," he said. "I never told her 'no' when she was alive and I sure wasn't going to say 'no' when she was gone."
Marguerite Averett received physical therapy at NOMC following a stroke, and rapidly endeared herself to the Andrews Institute staff in the hospital's Physicians Plaza, therapists said.
"We just really loved Miss Marguerite," therapist Melissa Clark said. "She was like family to us. She was always focused on us and our families and not on herself."
"She loved every minute she spent with y'all," Marguerite Averett Jr. said.
"She was full of life and spirit," John Averett Jr. said. "We're glad so many people loved my mom."
Gifts from a special lady
NOMC assistant Chief Operating Officer Heath Evans said the family's benevolence was touching.
"This is a reminder that we don't treat patients — we treat people," he said.
When Marguerite Wallace McClure Averett had a heart attack in May 2012, Andrews staffers took turns visiting her at the main hospital.
"When she passed, we closed the office down to go to the funeral," Hammonds said.
Andrews Institute Director of Development Brett Aldridge thanked the family for their generosity "and the impact it will have on the people that come through those doors."
"Consider it her generosity," John Averett Sr. said, gesturing to a new memorial plaque on the wall.
"All I do is sign the checks."
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.