Putnam County's Moore family donates to nursing campaign

Having practiced medicine in Putnam County for three generations, the J.T. Moore family has built a reputation for supporting local healthcare.

That support includes a contribution to Tennessee Tech University’s recent campaign to raise $21 million for the construction of a new School of Nursing facility, which will be the first built specifically for the 25-year-old academic program.

When construction of the new facility is complete, the legacy of the Moore family will be memorialized in the naming of its Student Health Services nursing triage and treatment room.

“The university is honored to give this distinction to such a notable family,” said Tom Hamilton, interim vice president of University Advancement. “The Moore family name is significant to the history of healthcare in Putnam County, and their support contributed directly to the success of this fundraising campaign.”

Dr. Lee Moore, of Cookeville’s Upper Cumberland Urology Associates, said his family’s support of TTU’s School of Nursing is a tradition that began with his late father, Dr. J.T. Moore Jr.

“As a TTU alumnus, a local physician and an active member of the community, he was a principle supporter and proponent of establishing a School of Nursing at Tennessee Tech,” Moore said. “That example has inspired us to continue the family’s support in his memory.”

The family’s medical tradition began with the late Dr. J.T. Moore Sr., who practiced in Algood from 1899 to 1966 and who rode horseback to make house calls to patients in the early years of his career, when transportation by motor vehicle was still an oddity.

His son, however, wasn’t originally interested in following in those footsteps. He instead earned a degree from TTU in engineering and worked for a time at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

After serving in the Army Air Corps, though, he seemed to have a change of heart and enrolled in medical school in Memphis. After graduating and completing his internship, he worked in his father’s office, practicing alongside of him for several years.

“When my father became a doctor in 1951, he was one of the youngest on staff at the hospital,” Moore said. At that time, the facility was called Cookeville General Hospital, although the public knows it today as Cookeville Regional Medical Center.

Dr. J.T. Moore Jr. quickly gained a reputation for his straightforward manner and outspoken way of relating to both his patients and his colleagues, Moore said, but his candor was also matched by his dedication to the profession.

“He read his medical journals daily to keep up-to-date with the latest healthcare practices, and he became one of the first board certified doctors in Putnam County when he earned certification as a family practitioner in 1971,” Moore said.

“He was a practicing physician for 48 years, and in that time, he saw a lot of changes in the medical profession,” he continued.

During J.T. Moore Jr.’s career, for instance, the field of medicine wasn’t as specialized as it is today.

“In a typical day, the needs of his patients might have required anything from general surgery or orthopedics to gynecology and obstetrics,” Moore said. “Although he was considered a family practice doctor, he delivered 3,500 babies throughout his career.”

It wasn’t until the 1970s — when Moore and his two older brothers, Jimmy and Johnny, were ready to begin college and their subsequent healthcare training — that the field of medicine was becoming as specialized as it is today.

All three brothers graduated from TTU with degrees in chemistry — Jimmy and Johnny in 1974 and Lee in 1979. Johnny pursued training as a pharmacist and now lives and works in Nashville. Jimmy is a nurse anesthetist at Cookeville’s Upper Cumberland Anesthesia.

Lee said he chose urology because it allowed him, somewhat like his father, to treat a wide variety of patient needs.

“I was working as an orderly at the hospital when I saw my first surgery, and I knew then that when I became a doctor, I wanted to do surgery. But being able to interact with patients was just as important to me,” he said.

“Urology allows for both. My patients are both genders and all ages who have a wide variety of needs, from treatment of kidney stones to tumors, and I enjoy being able to provide service for a such a diverse group with diverse needs,” Moore continued.

The medical tradition continues in the Moore family, with Jimmy’s son, Jeff, now in his general surgery residency.

As he becomes the family’s fourth generation doctor, their support of TTU’s nursing program will also help greater numbers of qualified candidates receive their own specialized training in nursing.

When construction is complete on TTU’s new nursing facility, for instance, it could nearly triple the number of program graduates, thereby increasing the number of qualified potential job candidates in Putnam County and throughout the Upper Cumberland.

Adequate funding for the construction of the new building was secured this past June, when — in addition to contributions from private donors like the Moore family — the Tennessee Legislature approved a $26 billion state budget that included an allocation of $15.4 million for the project.

The university could possibly begin accepting bids from potential contractors as soon as early next year, ground could potentially be broken as early as next April, and the project could possibly be completed as quickly as 18 months following the groundbreaking.

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