Hulett Sumlin thought of hospital employees as family, his sons said.
By Michelle E. Shaw
For 35 years, Hulett Sumlin escorted Piedmont Hospital through changing times. He started in 1956 as the hospital’s administrator and when he retired in 1991, he was its president and chief executive.
During Sumlin’s career at Piedmont, the Sumlin family took on hundreds of new members, his sons said. And these were not relationships the administrator took lightly.
“The people of the hospital were family,” John Sumlin said of his father. “He talked to everybody — the housekeeper, the engineer, the radiologist and the surgeon. He communicated through other people. He actually went out and talked to people.”
Hulett Dodge Sumlin died suddenly Sunday at his residence in Atlanta. He was 82. A memorial is planned for 2 p.m. on Thursday at Northside United Methodist Church, Atlanta. SouthCare Cremation and Funeral Society was in charge of the cremation.
An Atlanta native, Sumlin attended Boys High before going to Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Va., for his senior year. In 1953, he went on to the University of Georgia, where he earned a bachelor’s of science in pharmacy.
Sumlin’s career accomplishments included expanding the hospital and medical staffs, doubling the number of beds and helping to establish the Piedmont Hospital Foundation. In a 1991 Atlanta Journal-Constitution article that announced Sumlin’s retirement, he was credited with presiding “over a long period of unprecedented growth at Piedmont.”
He coordinated the establishment of one of the South’s first outpatient surgery centers in 1976 and in 1987, he directed the opening of a comprehensive outpatient diagnostic center. By the mid-80’s, he’d opened two off-campus minor emergency medical centers. He also initiated such programs as a renal transplant program, open-heart surgery, child care for employees and training programs for interns and residents.
In 1994, the Air Force veteran was honored by the Georgia Hospital Association and awarded its distinguished service award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to hospital and health care services.
“Even though he’s been retired for some time, people still remember him and miss him,” Andy Sumlin said of his father.
Though he invested a great deal of time in his work at the hospital, Hulett Sumlin was always engaged with family.
“He wasn’t the kind of guy who would go play golf when he had extra time,” Andy Sumlin said. “He took very little time to himself. He focused on us and, in later years, our children. He wanted to know what was important to us, to his grandchildren.”
“He was really about people,” said the youngest son, Dodge Sumlin. “He was about relationships and this was in the family, at the hospital, at church, wherever.”
In addition to his three sons, survivors include his wife of 51 years, Linda Lou Sumlin; and six grandchildren.
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