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Community Connection: Jay Dennard

Gwinnett Medical Center's Chief Operating Officer Jay Dennard said a twist of fate is to credit for his current profession. After his family-owned jewelry business was robbed at gunpoint in 1991, the family decided to sell. Dennard took the proceeds and became a trust investment officer with a major bank before moving into the health care field, where he believes he has a "higher calling."

With 12 years in the medical profession, Dennard - who holds three master's degrees - served as assistant administrator, support services/financial analyst at GMC's Duluth campus before assuming his current position in January.

When he's not busy managing the day-to-day affairs of GMC, you might find Dennard watching Georgia Bulldogs football, reading Tom Clancy or participating in Boy Scout activities.

Dennard is married to his wife of 13 years, Margaret. The couple met on a blind date, exchanged vows about a year later, and now have two sons, 11-year-old Trey and Will, 8.

On what he likes about being COO:

I love the diversity of the job. I could be somewhere talking construction at one time and a little while later meeting with the lab folks. It's great. Day in and day out working with the people here. The new tower ... it's 200,000 square feet but when it's all said and done, it's just bricks and mortar. These (physicians and associates) are what enhances the overall patient experience.

On the new, 155-bed north patient tower:

It's very exciting. I cannot imagine to have seen the great facilities built in the early '80s to these now that will take us into the future. It improves pride for the associates and for patients, they feel they are at a destination hospital.

On his hobbies:

I love reading and history ... tennis, walking and politics. My wife and I love to travel. In New York, we do theater, have nice dinners. We like St. Simons ... we go to the beach, ride bikes.

On his hometown:

I grew up in Perry, near Henderson. You probably can't Google and find it.

- As told to staff writer Heath Hamacher