While the temptation to move away after college is strong for some students, Kaylen Kelly is taking a different approach. The marketing major with a healthcare minor has a dream to help save a hospital in Bristow, Oklahoma. It is a hospital her great-grandmother, a registered nurse, founded nearly a century ago. A replacement facility, built in the 1950s with the help of her family members, still stands.
Small-town Hospital is Big Family Business for Price Student
“Many people will tell you that rural healthcare is a dying industry, but Bristow Medical Center has a mission of partnering with rural community hospitals to give them the tools to sustain and grow their practices, and to market the tremendous value that can be found through the patient experience at smaller-scale hospitals,” Kelly said. “It is an experience like no other when you can walk through the doors of a hospital or clinic and feel an immediate sense of comfort and appreciation, not only for your business, but for you as an individual. I have experienced this level of comfort all my life, and now, our hospital, and our town, is in jeopardy.
Hospital ties run deep in Kelly’s family. The original 1920s vintage hospital was started by Kelly’s great-grandmother, Dorcas “Dodo” Burnam Tracy Kelly, along with local doctors, but is no longer standing. In 1954, the Bristow Memorial Hospital opened to serve the growing needs of Bristow and the surrounding area. Kelly’s great-uncle was instrumental in the construction of a medical office building on the hospital campus.
Over the past 60 years, the hospital, now named Bristow Medical Center, has expanded into several multi-faceted campuses serving northeast Oklahoma residents in Bristow, Cushing, Jenks, Drumright, Prague, Coweta and Chandler, as well as the rural areas surrounding them.
For now, Kelly works remotely on social media and marketing projects for the hospital, but starting in June, she will be named the head of marketing for all the hospital campuses.
“When a hospital shuts down in a rural town, businesses and families, even devout Bristownians like my family, suddenly realize they are 30 minutes away from an emergency room or an urgent care, and both businesses and families move to locations where they are allowed that piece of mind,” Kelly said. “When rural hospitals fail, small towns become ghost towns. This will not be happening in Bristow or in any of the towns where Bristow Medical Center has opened campuses. Bristow Medical Center is dedicated to saving rural towns, saving rural hospitals, and saving lives, and that is why I have chosen to be a part of their organization. There is so much hope for rural hospitals in Oklahoma, and I am excited to work for a cause for which I have so much passion.”
Pictured here are OU student Kaylen Kelly, an architect’s depiction of the 1954 Bristow Memorial Hospital and a memorial brick from the original 1920s hospital.