Ham, former hospital leader, dies at 84

Clem Ham

Clem Patterson Ham, who played a vital role in the construction of Laurens Memorial Hospital, died Saturday after a long illness at his home in Marion, S.C. He was 84.

Ham took over as Chief Executive Officer of the Laurens County Health Care System in 1979. He was also then administrator of Bailey Memorial Hospital in Clinton and administrator of the Laurens County Hospital District. The more modern campus of Laurens Memorial Hospital at its current location on S.C. Highway 76 in Laurens, replaced the two hospital systems. The 90-bed Laurens Memorial Hospital joined the Greenville Health System in 2013.

He was also a member of the Laurens Rotary Club.

A native of Goldsboro, N.C., Ham attended The Citadel before serving in the U.S. Military during the Korean War. He then gradated from the University of South Carolina and completed a Duke Endowment residency program at Charlotte (N.C.) Memorial Hospital in the then new field of Hospital Administration

Ham’s career began as administrator of Bamberg (S.C.) County Memorial Hospital before moving to become associated director of Park View Hospital in Rocky Mount, N.C. He served as vice-president of hospital operations for Medicenters of America in Memphis, Tenn., prior to arriving in Laurens County in 1979. He ended his career in 2001 as chief executive officer of the Marion County (S.C.) Hospital District in 2001. While in Marion, Ham oversaw the merger of the Marion and Mullins hospitals.
“Ham was a pioneer in the creation of revolutionary new facilities in the state, which reduced duplications of equipment, services and staff,” Ham’s obituary read. “He became a leader in the field of providing dynamic medical institutions in the communities in which he worked and lived and served as a resource to others navigating complex changes in the medical community.”

The Clem P. Ham Scholarship in business administration at Lander University was established in his name. He received the Regents Award from the American College of Healthcare Executives in 1997 for his contributions to the profession and advance of new healthcare models. He also received the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina’s highest civilian service award, in 1997.

Ham, who was buried at the Presbyterian Church of Marion Tuesday, is survived by his wife of 56 years, Nan Elisabeth Scarborough Ham, daughters Sarah Kay Ham Bryce, Elisabeth Ham Clauber and Kimberly Ham and their families.

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