Jackie McLeod: "I won't go anywhere else."
Jackie McLeod knows South Baldwin Regional Medical Center. Since she moved with her husband to South Baldwin County in 1976, she has had three children at the hospital and numerous tests and procedures. The bottom line? "I won't go anywhere else," she said.
Yes, she is the wife of Dr. Kenneth McLeod, who practices at SBRMC, but that's not why she's so high on the hospital. "I've been there as a patient quite a lot and I know the care is the best I can get anywhere," she said. "They are always so attentive to my needs."
Last May Jackie and her husband were planning a trip to Panama. Dr. McLeod did a complete physical examination on his wife to be sure she was in good health for the trip. He found an obstruction in her carotid artery.
Jackie had a heart catheterization and an ultrasound and was scheduled for surgery at SBRMC within a week. Dr. Peter Pluscht, III, was her surgeon, and she has high praise for him and Dr. William Garretson, who assisted. "It went well," she said. "The nurses were interested and concerned and so very nice to me."
You always hear that hospital food is not the best, but Jackie McLeod declared the food at SBRMC "delicious." She liked the food so much she made a point of complimenting the food service staff.
Food is something Jackie knows a lot about. She owns The Gift Horse, one of Baldwin County's most popular restaurants. Located in a landmark historical building in Foley, The Gift Horse buffet is a sumptuous array of Jackie McLeod's own recipes.
From the signature fried biscuits, apple cheese and praline sweet potatoes to the blueberry muffins and crawfish bisque, the food at The Gift Horse has become famous since Jackie opened her restaurant 24 years ago in a 1912 former hardware store.
A food and nutrition major at Auburn University where she met and married her husband, then a pharmacy student, Jackie literally dreamed of a restaurant in a restored building. In her dream, she actually saw the interior of the present Gift Horse building with its balcony and chandeliers.
She was across the street at the bank one day and saw the hardware store that had been closed for 8 years. She knew that it was the restaurant location of her dreams. She bought it and restored it and opened the restaurant that she wants her customers to feel is "like going to Grandma's at Thanksgiving."
Many of the recipes for the delicious made-from-scratch food at The Gift Horse came from a neighbor of Jackie's when she was growing up in her hometown of Collinsville in North Alabama. The neighbor, Mrs. Clayton, was a dietitician at the school and allowed Jackie to copy her recipes.
Jackie got some of the recipes from friends when she lived in Louisville, KY, but she took the idea for fried biscuits from the Nashville House in Nashville, IN. The owner, who has visited The Gift Horse, wouldn't give her the recipe, so she made up her own.
Jackie and Dr. Kenneth McLeod, a Gulf Shores native, have been married for 43 years and have six children.
Dean and Tyson work at the restaurant and so does Meghan when she isn't at Auburn as a student. Kish is a medical student at Midwestern University in Phoenix, AZ. Chad works for Auburn University, and Jerusha is an anthropologist in California.
Being the wife of a physician is not difficult for Jackie McLeod. "When he's out working, I'm out working," she said. One of her husband's colleagues once observed that the only person he knows who works harder than Dr. McLeod is his wife."
Jackie is proud of her husband and of "her" hospital.
"People here should be so thankful that we have an excellent community hospital and they should support it so we can continue to have it," she said. "Try our hospital first before you go anywhere else. See for yourself how good it is."