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Inside Bulloch Business with DeWayne Grice - Thanks, Nancy, for your Hospice leadership
NancyBryantWeb
Nancy Bryant

Business Ticker

• Dr. Joseph F. Griffin, D.M.D has joined Southern Family Dental Group and has closed his office on South Main Street. Dr. Griffin joins Dr. Ben Massey, Jr., D.M.D, a native of Savannah who joined the practice last year and Dr. Jarrett H. Walden, D.M.D. Southern Family Dental Group is the former practice of the late Dr. Hudson Powell, Sr., D.M.D. at 108 Gentilly Road. (912) 764-6861.
• Dr. Harvey Elerson, Jr., D.M.D. has relocated his dental practice from Cotton Ridge to 205 Donehoo Street, which is directly across from Ogeechee Area Hospice. (912) 871-3212.

 

        Late one Sunday evening, 11 years ago, Dr. John Gerguis called me at home. My dad had an appointment with him the next morning and he felt that it would be best for me to come along.
        His health had begun to fail. He was in his 70s and I could see small things were becoming a struggle for him. Regardless, nothing could prepare us for the next morning. My dad was told that he had stage four lung cancer and would only live a few more weeks.
        Dr. Gerguis then explained to us about Ogeechee Area Hospice, where he continues to serve as medical director. With my father's blessings, Dr. Gerguis began the preparations for the next few weeks. He explained to us about all the resources and services made available through Hospice.
        Dr. Gerguis told us that the program included everything my dad would need to honor his desire to die in peace, with dignity, in his home and not be a burden to any of the family. We learned, over the next few weeks that would include RN's, chaplins, nursing assistants, social workers, a ton of medications and medical equipment required to transform his bedroom into a remote hospital room. Of course, I was so relieved to learn that all of this would be provided at no cost to my father or my family.
        The emotional roller coaster we all experienced through those last few weeks was incredibly challenging. However, thanks to a tremendously compassionate doctor and incredible team at Ogeechee Area Hospice our time with him was focused on saying goodbye without having to worry about anything else.
        Many of you reading this column have walked in my footsteps under the watchful guidance of Ogeechee Area Hospice over the past two decades. Leading that organization has been the woman who was the champion of this cause since day one, Nancy Bryant.
        In 1994, with $50,000 of seed money from Bulloch Memorial Hospital and the blessing of Ogeechee Home Health Agency, Bryant began Ogeechee Area Hospice. Ogeechee Home Health Agency was founded in 1974 by Charlotte White, wife of a local surgeon Dr. Steve White as a non-profit.
        Like its sister organization, Ogeechee Area Hospice was a real innovator nationally. Hospices were popular on the West Coast and had made it to the more metropolitan areas, with the closest one being Savannah.
        "In the beginning my goal was simple, I wanted to offer people a choice to die at home," Bryant said. "I never dreamed this simple idea would take root and become the incredible success it is today."
        Success is a bit of an understatement. The organization she built has more than $6 million in assets, an annual operating budget exceeding $5 million and nearly 100 employees, supported with an annual payroll of $2.5 million.
        Ogeechee Hospice serves nearly 500 patients per year, with one third being admitted at some point into their acute inpatient care facility on Donehoo St. The inpatient facility was championed by Herbert O'Keefe, Ph.D, who was the chairman of Ogeechee Area Home Health when HMA purchased it for a little over $2 million.
        Dr. O'Keefe became the first president of the Ogeechee Area Hospice Board of Directors. He and the board invested the proceeds from the sale for the future inpatient facility.
        "That was probably the most difficult period for me," Bryant said. "We were a rich/poor organization. One of the advantages of joining OHH was the administrative support they provided. Overnight, this was gone. I was now having to master H.R., accounting and other administrative duties, while I was seeing patients in my role as a nurse."
        Over the next decade, Bryant and her team slowly and steadily grew the organization. In 2005, Dr. O'Keefe's inpatient dream became a reality. The seed money had grown now to a little over $3 million and the community kicked in another $1.5 million to allow the building to be debt free when construction was complete. Local businessmen C.P. Olliff and W.R. "Bobby" Smith co-chaired this initial capital campaign.
        In 2012, after a second capital campaign led by David and Fayebeth Ball raised another $1.6 million, Ogeechee Area Hospice opened the residential facility, also debt free. This brings the total beds to 25.
        "Even though the facilities are the most visible part of OAH, the in home services still account for more than 75 percent of our revenue and are critical to our continued success," Bryant said. "We only get paid $135 per day, regardless of how many days you are admitted into our program. The more days a patient is enrolled, the more revenue we have to level out the tremendously high cost of care."
        After two decades of leadership, Bryant decided to retire and pass the reigns to Amy Quinn. Quinn has relocated to Statesboro after serving two decades with Hospice of the Blue Grass in Kentucky. Quinn was selected by the board after an extensive national search.
        "With Amy in place with a strong leadership team of tenured staff and an active, dedicated board made up of community and business leaders, I feel good about stepping away and know that great things will continue for OAH," Bryant said.
        As a final tribute to Bryant's leadership, the board officially named the facility in her honor.
        It is a fitting farewell to a dynamic and visionary leader.
        Please email DeWayne at dgrice@statesboroherald.com or give him a call at (912) 489-9499.

Business Ticker

• Dr. Joseph F. Griffin, D.M.D has joined Southern Family Dental Group and has closed his office on South Main Street. Dr. Griffin joins Dr. Ben Massey, Jr., D.M.D, a native of Savannah who joined the practice last year and Dr. Jarrett H. Walden, D.M.D. Southern Family Dental Group is the former practice of the late Dr. Hudson Powell, Sr., D.M.D. at 108 Gentilly Road. (912) 764-6861.
• Dr. Harvey Elerson, Jr., D.M.D. has relocated his dental practice from Cotton Ridge to 205 Donehoo Street, which is directly across from Ogeechee Area Hospice. (912) 871-3212.

 

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