Local man appears in MSHA commercial


Photo By Rick Harris George Messer (front), of Hampton, stands with Mountain States Health Alliance (MSHA) Vice President, Ed Herbert, in front of an image of his own face projected on a wall of the Pine Room at Franklin Fitness Center. Messer stars in one of five MSHA commercials to be aired over the next few weeks.

By Julie Fann
star staff
jfann@starhq.com
George Messer says he's living on borrowed time, and his priorities are different now. If the public knows of the pain he has suffered, then, so be it. Messer, of Hampton, will appear in one of five Mountain States Health Alliance (MSHA) commercials to be aired over the next six to eight weeks.
"It doesn't bother me ... after I was given a second chance by gettin' a kidney, I figured from here on out I wouldn't be here anyway had it not been for that and medical science. I think everybody, the doctors that I've had over the last few years, they're owed something back," he said.
A pipe fitter by trade, Messer, 58, was diagnosed with diabetes in 1974. After his daughter donated a kidney to her father two years ago, anti-rejection drugs damaged circulation in his legs. Last year, Messer had to undergo surgery to amputate both legs below the knee. Now, he gets around using prosthetic limbs and a walker, or a wheelchair.
Messer not only starred in one of the MSHA commercials to promote rehabilitative services, but he also provided the voice-over for the segment as follows: I am human. I have set goals that I have failed to accomplish. I have dreams that I have yet to achieve. The fact is, I have failed many more times in my life than I have succeeded. But I have never given up. Neither do they ... thank you.
A talented musician, Messer once played the guitar, mandolin, and the piano. Due to a severed nerve in his arm, however, Messer can no longer play those instruments, but he still manages to play a dobro guitar, one of four different guitars that he owns.
"He has been an entertainer all his life," his wife, June, said. "In my opinion, when he played the guitar, he was as good as Doc Watson."
Messer said he holds onto his two grandchildren, Jordan and Jill, for inspiration and hope. "He says they are the reason he is here," his wife, June, said.
The Messers, members of Limestone Cove Christian Church, remain committed to family, health and home despite Messer's illnesses.
"Most days, he is pretty happy. He has his down days, but you do the best you can," June said.
All of the MSHA commercials were filmed at Sycamore Shoals Hospital, and the one in which Messer appears was staged in the physical therapy department. A fifth commercial is a public service announcement regarding the nursing shortage that will air nationally for several weeks.
Registered nurse, Barbara Leduc, who has worked at Sycamore Shoals Hospital for six years, appears in the public service announcement.
"The nursing shortage has made it very difficult to recruit and hold young nurses," said Leduc. "The competition is fierce, and it is difficult to compete with wages in the traveling nurse field."
The company BVK Media filmed the segments from Aug. 7 through Aug. 9 using local residents. The divisions of cardiology, oncology, ortho-neuro and women's services were highlighted in four commercials.