Sullivan County Democrat
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Democrat Photo by Fred Stabbert III

MONTICELLO RESIDENT SELMA Field took time out of her busy schedule last year to pose for this photograph in front of her beloved Community General Hospital off Route 17 in Harris.

Farewell to a Sullivan
County Original

By Jeanne Sager
MONTICELLO — December 21, 2001 – After a long battle with cancer, one of Sullivan County’s most outspoken health advocates has died.
Selma Field, 76, known to many as the “heart and soul” of Catskill Regional Medical Center (CRMC), passed away Wednesday night.
Field was the spokesperson for the county’s hospital for more than 40 years. Along with her husband Edwin, she co-owned Field Associates, Ltd., a public relations firm on Landfield Ave. in Monticello.
“She was the heart and soul of the hospital,” said Joyce Salimeno, chair of the Board of Trustees at CRMC and a friend of Field’s for more than 30 years. “I don’t think there was a program or service that the hospital offers that Selma didn’t touch in some way.”
Echoing the sentiments of many of Field’s close friends and colleagues, CRMC President/CEO Art Brien added, “Selma was the most committed person to this hospital — she’s going to be missed by a lot of people.”
Field has been credited by many with kicking off many of the projects which have helped improve healthcare in Sullivan County.
Her work at CRMC included developing the Health Promotion and Wellness Department, the Complementary Wellness Department and the Century Club.
Field had a strong affinity for alternative medicine, helping to develop its use at the hospital and using it in her own six-year battle with cancer, Brien said.
“Not that she shunned traditional medicine, but she credited her survival for so long to the people she’s been working with,” Brien stated.
In her position as spokesperson at the hospital, Field also had the chance to spearhead many of the hospital’s large fund raisers.
“She just had an incredible vision,” Salimeno noted, “far ahead of her time.”
Two months ago, Field submitted a letter of resignation to Brien for all of her duties — which ranged from head of public relations and marketing to her involvement with the hospital’s foundation.
Come December 31, she was set to fully retire from the one place on which she’d focused most of her efforts of the past 41 years.
But her work at the hospital wasn’t Field’s only attempt to improve the lives of Sullivan County’s residents.
She also felt strongly about education and volunteerism, making her voice heard while serving on the board of education for the Monticello School District, her alma mater, and for 13 years on the board of trustees at SUNY New Paltz.
During Field’s time on the Monticello board, she worked with other members to convert the George L. Cooke and Kenneth Rutherford elementary schools from regional schools which served only the children who lived near them to buildings serving different grade levels.
The switch brought more unity to the Monticello school system, allowing children to develop together at the two schools.
Field’s mark on the lives of Sullivan County’s youth was also evident in the time and devotion she put forth to volunteering for the Court Appointed Special Advocates for children (CASA).
It was those efforts, and others, that earned Field a Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce Pride Award in 2000 for Volunteer of the Year and prompted the Sullivan County healthcare community to toast her as guest of honor at a special dinner in 1997, after she’d spent 36 years as the hospital’s spokesperson.
“The passing of Selma Field is an irreplaceable loss,” said long-time friend Alan Gerry. “She was a tremendous force in the transformation of Community General Hospital into the Catskill Regional Medical Center, which has had a significant impact on the quality of life in Sullivan County.
“She was one of the bravest women I have ever known, and her life was a testament to the power of determination and dedication in overcoming seemingly impossible obstacles.
“She was a woman of vision who persevered and succeeded where giants had failed — we will miss Selma, but we will never forget her.”

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