Brewton-Parker honors renowned surgical oncologist Dr. Hamby Letton with new lab


From left to right, Nathan Russell, Johnathan W. Gray, Steven Echols and Debbi Bryarly pose for a photo at the Letton Nursing Skills Lab at Brewton-Parker College.

By Evan Riekhof

MOUNT VERNON, Ga. — Brewton-Parker College has dedicated the Letton Nursing Skills Lab in memory of Dr. Alva Hamblin “Hamby” Letton, a distinguished surgical oncologist who left a lasting impact on Christian healthcare in Georgia.

Funding for the new lab was received through a grant from the Georgia Baptist Foundation.

Letton was a Navy veteran and served during World War II. In the late 1940s, he was active with the American Cancer Society’s Georgia Division. He served as president of the American
Cancer Society in 1971.

Letton’s work pioneered early detection of cancer. He has been described as an advocate for data and research related to cancer. He understood that it would have no impact if that knowledge is not translated into treatment, practiced, and disseminated in a manner that allows medical professionals and patients to make sound decisions.

Letton was 93 when he passed away in 2010.

Brewton Parker President Steven Echols, Brewton Parker Director of Nursing Debbi Bryarly, and Georgia Baptist Foundation President Johnathan W. Gray spoke at a dedication ceremony for the new lab on September 23.

Bryarly stated, “The Letton Nursing Skills Lab is an integral part of nursing education at Brewton-Parker College."

The lab will be a safe environment for students to learn and practice basic skills such as making beds and giving a bath and then progressing to skills such as starting IVs and giving medications. Students will also learn tasks such as proper hand hygiene and how to perform a health assessment. This will include tasks such as taking blood pressure and listening to heart and lung sounds. The students will learn these skills under the supervision and direction of a qualified nursing faculty member who will teach them proper techniques and procedures.

Bryarly goes on to say, “Students will have ample time in the lab to practice before demonstrating their skills to the faculty before going to the hospital for their clinical rotations.”

Echols commented, “We are very grateful for the wonderful legacy of Dr. Letton, and for his foresight and generosity in establishing this fund which has been of great help in providing for Christian based nursing education at the three Georgia Baptist Institutions of Higher Education. The impact of this support will never be fully known this side of eternity. Nursing education is a perfect expression of our mission to see the lives of our students transformed so that they may become ambassadors for Christ in the field of medical care.”

Based on a feasibility study done last year, the need for nurses is critical. As demand continues unabated, educators and healthcare providers are working together to supply the workforce. Areas with higher proportions of low-income and minority residents suffer most from a smaller pool of qualified physicians and other healthcare professionals. Addressing this need undergirds the college’s mission to provide a transformational experience not only to its students but also to the region it calls home.

The Georgia Board of Nursing has recently approved the start of the nursing program at Brewton-Parker for the fall of 2022. The goal is to have training for nurses who will go forth as ambassadors for
Christ in their field. The effort to establish a nursing program at BPC first began with a vision and formal proposal from Helene Peters, professor of biology and chair of the math and science division. Peters saw the great need for a Christian college nursing program that would help meet the shortage of nurses in South Georgia. As a result of the board action, Brewton-Parker College is now the only approved Christian college south of Macon that will offer a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

Brewton-Parker College is the only accredited four-year Christian college south of Macon and north of Jacksonville, Fla. As a comprehensive Georgia Baptist institution, Brewton-Parker College provides liberal
arts and professional programs in a learning community of shared Christian values. Through the application of biblical truth in scholarship and a co-curricular focus on character, servant leadership, and
cultural engagement, the college strives to provide a transformational experience that equips the whole student for lifelong learning and service in Christ.

Brewton-Parker College, Debbie Bryarly, Dr. Letton, Jonathan Gray, Nathan Russell, Steven Echols