A True Hospice Hero

“The dedicated life is a life worth living.”
-Annie Dillard

Richard Oakley, hospice operations AVP for Alabama, will retire at the end of the year. He is an amazing person and has had a tremendous positive impact on the LHC Group hospice service line. There are many stories about Rick and his passion for hospice. Here are a few thoughts that the team would like to share about him.

Rick truly believes that every person who works in hospice has an obligation to share the benefits of hospice services with anyone who needs them. He inspires all of us to reach deep and remember that we are here to serve the patients and families who need us. He also knows that we all have a fiduciary responsibility to provide those services in the most prudent fashion while never skimping on quality. Rick has been a champion for our QAPI program and has always worked hard to help his areas succeed in this measure.

Rick is also very well known for his sense of humor. He can easily turn a difficult day into a bright one with his quick wit. During one of our team meetings a few years back, he put on a Donald Trump wig (well before he became President) and said that his strategic plan was to “Make Hospice Great Again!” He has an amazing gift of explaining difficult concepts (like financials) so that all can understand. He is ALWAYS calm and has a plan no matter what the situation.

It has been said that Rick has the true heart of a giver and a servant. One leader said that he often checked on her as she was traveling and always made sure that she arrived safely. Someone else talked about how he checked up on her and her family when she was out after surgery, even though she no longer reported to him. He really cares about the people he works with.

Another time, Rick received a call at 9:00 p.m. one evening regarding the family member of one of our home health employees. The patient had been discharged from the hospital without any pain medications and was in immense pain. Rick took over the situation and not only got an assessment and pain medications ordered, but worked to have a hospice team member deliver the medications to the home so that the family did not have to leave the patient’s side. The local hospice team took over care of this patient and the patient passed away not long after.

One ED talked about her initial tenure with Rick. She had a stressful state survey within a few months of becoming ED. Rick was managing two states and driving all over the world, but he still would call to check on her constantly and ask her what she needed. This ED also had difficult decisions regarding the closure of an office and the need to reduce some key team members. Rick told her that he would make sure that these folks were taken care of because he wouldn’t work for a company that didn’t do the right thing. It made her feel so much better and more comfortable with the changes.

Rick is a true Hospice Hero and has made a big difference for all of us. It is an honor to have worked with him these past five years, and we are all so glad he chose to complete his distinguished healthcare tenure with LHC Group hospice! It will be hard to fill his shoes!”