Yesterday, Adventist HealthCare completed the transfer of Hackettstown Regional Medical Center to the Atlantic Health System. As one chapter closes and another begins, I’ve been thinking about the long and faithful history of this institution—and of the persistence of a community that really wanted a hospital.

In the 1940s, people in Hackettstown started talking and dreaming about the need for a community hospital. It was a conversation that just would not go away. By the fifties, the talk became serious enough that a corporation was organized, and a group of 21 citizens contributed funds to purchase 15 acres of property on which the hospital was built.

As the sixties rolled around, the regulations seemed almost insurmountable, but a fundraising effort that was initially organized by the Seventh-day Adventist church helped awaken the passion of the entire community to come together to find the funds for the hospital. From 1968 to 1972, the “Bucket Brigade” raised funds on weekends from tourists heading to and from the Poconos on Route 46 through Hackettstown.

This unique approach raised $101,000, but it did something else, too: it brought the community together so solidly around the idea of a local hospital that it became impossible to stop it. As the money raised from many sources, including the “Bucket Brigade”, reached $2.2 million—and the backing of the Adventist church in establishing the hospital was secured—ground was finally broken for the construction of the hospital in August of 1970.

On February 23, 1973, Hackettstown Community Hospital opened its doors. A community rejoiced—and looked back over nearly three decades at the patience, hard work, and persistence that had been required to get them to that day.

Today we can look back on more than four decades of dedicated service. As the needs of the community changed and grew, so did the hospital. As the need for specialty services and care expanded, so did the hospital. When the name was changed to Hackettstown Regional Medical Center in 2005, the story that was told then is the same story we retell today: the story of a community that has shown an abiding commitment to their hospital.

As Adventist HealthCare completes its role in this shared history, we are confident that the hospital will continue to be loved and appreciated by the community, and that the support it has always enjoyed will remain strong as it continues to change and grow with the needs of the community.

Our hope and our prayer at this moment is unchanged: that God will continue to bless the community of Hackettstown and will strengthen and support all those associated with Hackettstown Medical Center as they serve their community with excellent and compassionate care.