Hayes Named Colquitt Regional Humanitarian of the Year

Debra Hayes, RN, was recently named the 2022 recipient of the Walter E. Harrison, Jr., MD, Humanitarian Award. Hayes received the award at the 28th Annual Colquitt Regional Medical Foundation Love Light ceremony held in the Kate Jeter Serenity Garden.

This award, named in honor of the late Dr. Walter E. Harrison, Jr., is presented annually to an individual health care worker who demonstrates a commitment to compassionate health care service and community outreach. These were the guiding principles of Harrison’s medical career.

Harrison believed in helping those in need, and he practiced this belief both at home and in medical missions abroad. The Colquitt Regional Medical Foundation established the award following Harrison’s death in December 2010.

Hayes began her career at Colquitt Regional over 38 years ago and works as a charge nurse in the Maternal Infant Unit. She is known for the compassion she shows daily and has been described as a “patient advocate and a true mentor to the new generation of nurses.”

“We are honored to name Debra Hayes as the Harrison Humanitarian of the Year,” said Colquitt Regional President and CEO Jim Matney. “I have known her for 12 years now and she is just as compassionate as the day I first met her. She is an invaluable resource and leader within her department and the organization and we are very blessed to have her on our team.”

In addition to her role with Colquitt Regional, Hayes has been an active ambassador for the Hope House, the Teen Maze project, March of Dimes, and is a member of Autryville Baptist Church.

Hayes is married to husband Timmy, and they have three daughters, Rebecca, Kimberly, and Morgan. She is also grandmother to Matthew and Josiah Hayes.

“Debra’s passion for her patients is evident in the care she provides every day,” said Colquitt Regional Medical Foundation Chairman Beth Bates. “She lives out the principles that guided Dr. Harrison’s work and is most deserving of the Humanitarian of the Year title.”

Previous recipients of the Harrison Humanitarian award include Alex Shivers, LMSW, Dr. Tamara Johnson, Dr. Billy Ray Price; David Spence, RT (R, ARRT); Karen G. Hart, RN, CMSRN; Barbara James, RN; Dr. D.W. Adcock; Dr. Patricia Lee June; Denise Linnenkohl, RN; and Dr. Seth Berl.

The annual Love Light Ceremony was held on Tuesday, Dec. 6, in the Kate Jeter Serenity Garden. Santa, along with VIP Tree Lighter Josiah Hayes, flipped the switch to light up over 40 trees in the garden. Hayes suffered a congenital diaphragmatic hernia during his development in the womb which caused serious complications and has been a beloved patient at Georgia South Family Medicine Residency Center and Vereen Rehabilitation Center.

Each light on the Love Light tree symbolizes a gift in honor or memory of a loved one. The purpose of Love Light is to annually benefit the Colquitt Regional Medical Foundation’s Children’s Fund, which was established to provide medical equipment for obstetric, nursery, and pediatric services. In addition, proceeds from this year will aid in the final construction of a 10-bed inpatient geriatric behavioral health unit.

The public is invited to visit the Love Light Garden of Trees by driving by or stopping to take a stroll. The garden will be fully lit each evening at sunset until January 6.