“This is just a special day and a day in my honor,” Tom Phillips said.
"It's special because it gives me an opportunity to reflect on this system. This is a world-class system. I've been involved in it since 1996 and this system has come a long way ... It's just a tremendous honor to be involved with a great organization such as WellStar."
While the event and the luncheon surrounding the dedication might have included more fanfare than the Phillipses preferred, they sat poised in the front row of the audience under a tent on the lawn outside the new Tom and Betty Phillips Tower on the Kennestone campus with their family and friends. Their grandsons, Brandon and Ryan Fortgang, released blue and silver balloons for the unveiling of the new tower. WellStar Health System's board of trustees Chairman Randall Bentley described Tom as the "wizard behind the curtain" for his work as finance chair of the board.
"One thing I will tell you, though they would never want you to know, is that the Phillips have helped so many organizations and individuals in this community, in addition to WellStar, in a nice, quite, generous way," Bentley said in his speech before the tower dedication.
A Cobb resident since 1964, Tom Phillips was asked to join the board of trustees in 1996. Since that time, friends say the oil company owner and philanthropist has become an expert in health care and his family has donated an excess of $1 million to the hospital system, Tracey Atwater, president of the WellStar Foundation said.
At the luncheon following the dedication, Bob Prillaman, long-time WellStar and KSU board of trustee member, described his friend, Tom Phillips, as a brilliant man, and said Phillips' decision to marry his wife of 51 years, Betty, the best decision he's ever made.
Prillaman said in his speech that he once asked Phillips how he decides to donate his time and money to certain charities and causes, to which Phillips said in reply, "You do simply what's right; it does not have anything to do with tax breaks and recognition."
Atwater said the foundation has been discussing how to adequately honor the Phillips for their dedication to WellStar for the last year or so, but that plans did not get underway for the tower until January. The new Tom and Betty Phillips Tower, formerly known as the "Blue Tower," was built in 2006, cost $64 million and houses all of WellStar's cardiac services. Several political officials and candidates were also at the event to honor the Phillips, including gubernatorial candidate and former Gov. Roy Barnes and Cobb County chairman candidate Tim Lee.
Also, at the Kennestone Hospital campus, WellStar broke ground on June 23 for a new Kennestone Outpatient Pavilion, a 130,000-square-foot, five-floor medical office building on the corner of Tower Road and Church Street. The outpatient pavilion is owned by several physicians and physicians groups, and headed by health care real estate firm Meadows & Ohly. WellStar Kennestone will lease space in the $34.5 million building, which will include a woman's breast health imaging center on its first floor and an outpatient surgery center and observation rooms on its fourth floors, both funded by WellStar. Floors two, three and five will be doctor offices, funded by private physicians. The building is scheduled to be complete and open to the public in April 2011, said WellStar spokesman Keith Bowermaster.