Health care workers received the spotlight Thursday as the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce selected the Decatur Morgan Hospital workforce as the collective 2020 Citizens of the Year and pulmonologist Dr. James Boyle, a leader in the local fight against COVID-19, as the 2021 Citizen of the Year.

The chamber did not hold its annual meeting in 2020 due to the pandemic, and the 2021 meeting on Thursday was held virtually for the same reason.

A past winner of the Miss Athelyne C. Banks Citizen of the Year Award, Wally Terry, said the 1,500 Decatur Morgan Hospital workers “put the needs of our community ahead of themselves, and in many cases their own families. They worried when they went home if they unknowingly would be infecting their family. They had sleepless nights bearing the weight of COVID-19’s impact on the people they were serving.”

Boyle, an Austin High graduate who received his bachelor's and medical degrees at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, is the medical director of the intensive care units at Decatur Morgan Hospital. Past award winner Dr. William Sims said Boyle's co-workers said Boyle "was a wonderful, caring, compassionate, empathetic, and responsive physician, that he was a good listener, that he was considerate, that he was an advocate for both patients and for the hospital, that he was dedicated, and very importantly they said that he was the same person every day and every night.”

Banks, for whom the Citizen of the Year Award is named, was an educator for 42 years, including 29 at Decatur City Schools. She was a public school teacher, the first woman principal at Carver Elementary School and a public school administrator.

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