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Healthcare Passion Runs Deep in West Memphis Family

Keith Ingram and Kent IngramLike their father before them, brothers Kent and Keith Ingram are good Methodists and dedicated public servants. Like W.K. “Bill” Ingram, their home is in West Memphis, in Arkansas’ Crittenden County.

And like the elder Ingram, who served as County Judge from 1949-1953, they know how important healthcare is to any community. Crittenden Regional Hospital opened its doors in West Memphis during Bill’s tenure in 1951.

“It’s like a county mayor,” Keith says of his dad’s former office. “At that time, there was no county commission. He was in charge of the county. He knew that to grow a community, you had to have good healthcare and a hospital.”

The hospital born under their father’s watch is now a Methodist Healthcare affiliate. But the Ingrams are committed to bringing more than just the Methodist name to West Memphis—they’re convinced that the system’s Congregational Health Network (CHN) shouldn’t stop at the banks of the Mississippi River.

“Methodist has taken healthcare and its mission to another level,” Kent said. “That’s what I see the CHN doing. I credit the leadership—the foresight of Gary Shorb and his team. They are right on.”

Across the bridge

To that end, the brothers have made a gift to the Methodist Healthcare Foundation to fund the resources necessary to extend the network to congregations in West Memphis.

“There’s a desperate need for contact, follow-up and healthcare education in our community,” Kent said. “The navigators can do a tremendous job. It’s the ‘do right’ responsibility of the churches to not only minister spiritually but also physically—that’s part of our mission and should be part of every church and denomination.”

Kent says “our mission” with good reason. Keith served on the Methodist Healthcare board from 1996 to 2005. Kent followed and still serves today. They’ve supported a variety of initiatives over the years, including a gift for the recent expansion of Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.

Thinking outside the box

The Ingrams are proud of their healthcare heritage and thankful for the work Methodist is doing in Memphis and now West Memphis.

“The thing that always struck me about Methodist,” Keith said, “is that it lives its mission. Methodist takes patient-centered care very seriously. They have found a way through ministry, through churches, to further their outreach. Not everyone has the same access to healthcare, so you have to think outside the box in order to bring that healthcare to them.”

Kent sees no reason why the CHN idea shouldn’t spread beyond the Mid-South.

“Hopefully,” he says, “the model that Methodist has developed can be used in other communities throughout the United States.”

Photo: Keith Ingram and Kent Ingram