Iredell Health System President and CEO Ed Rush was awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine award on Thursday, May 2 during the Health System’s Board of Directors meeting. The award is the highest honor a civilian can earn in North Carolina.
Since 1963, North Carolina governors have reserved this honor for individuals who have made significant contributions to the state and their communities through exemplary service and exceptional accomplishments.
The award is a tribute to Rush for the achievements he has made in his 15 years as CEO for Iredell Health System, as well as his accomplishments at other healthcare facilities before coming to Iredell. He will retire at the end of May.
Rush has been an instrumental leader transitioning Iredell Health System from an acute care hospital to a dynamic healthcare provider representing 17 practices throughout the region.
“Ed has been focused like a laser beam on providing the very best healthcare options to the citizens of Iredell County, including the fast-growing southern end, traditional service area in greater Statesville, and the rural agricultural areas in the north and surrounding counties,” said James Mallory, Chairman of the Iredell County Board of Commissioners.
Championing the desires of community residents amid a shifting healthcare environment, Rush upheld Iredell Memorial Hospital as a community-owned nonprofit hospital, the only one in Iredell County and now one of the few remaining in North Carolina.
Rush inspired a shift from a traditional mindset of a healthcare institution simply being available to people as their needs arise to an altruistic approach of expanding healthcare to community members.
“His compassionate and tireless leadership efforts have led to a strong community-driven and supported healthcare system which encourages and enables the population to achieve greater health status,” said David Cash, MD, a family practice physician in Statesville. Cash was a recipient of The Order of the Long Leaf Pine in 2016 and had the honor of presenting Rush with the award Thursday night.
Rush expressed his gratitude for being awarded such a prestigious honor.
“I am extremely honored to be given this award,” Rush said. “I can’t express enough how fortunate I have been to be a part of Iredell Health System and to have worked with thousands of employees over the years. It is because of them that I have earned this, and I will forever be grateful for their unwavering commitment to inspire wellbeing for the lives of those in the communities we serve.”
People named to The Order of the Long Leaf Pine become North Carolina Ambassadors with their names and award dates recorded on a roster, and are granted the privilege of proposing, at any time, the official toast to the State of North Carolina:
Here's to the land of the long leaf pine,
The summer land where the sun doth shine,
Where the weak grow strong and the strong grow great,
Here's to "down home," the Old North State!