Ogeechee Area Hospice Celebrates 25th anniversary with a large surprise.
The community gathered Thursday night to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Ogeechee Area Hospice (OAH). But soon guests learned that they would have much more to celebrate. During the event, Tracy Joiner of Joiner Anderson Funeral Home, introduced his great uncle Ted Tucker who presented an $800,000 check to OAH on behalf of the Tucker Family of Leefield. Ted and his brother James are the only two living children of Frank and Susie Tucker.
The Tucker’s were farmers in the Leefield area of Bulloch County where they raised eleven children. In his comments tonight, Ted shared how his Mom and Dad began as sharecroppers who raised eleven successful children. Many of the Tucker family have used the services of OAH during their end of life. Last year, Ted spent a good bit of time at the in-patient facility with his sister who was terminally ill at the time.
Making a difference
“Over and over in my families darkest hours, OAH became a beacon of light and hope for me and so many others”, said Philanthropist Ted Tucker. “This is a special place and the people here are some of the most special people I have ever encountered. From the staff, to the volunteers, to the management and board, what they have here is unlike anything I have ever seen. I wanted to do something significant to share not only my appreciation, but our families’ gratitude.”
As Ted presented the check to Jean Bartles, President of the OAH Board, Tinker Lanier, Director of Development for OAH and Nancy Bryant, CEO of OAH he commented, “We thank you for the work that you do and hope that this gift will enable you to continue doing this work, Thank you!”
OAH invites the community out to meet the Tucker family on Saturday, October 26th at 1 PM as they unveil a plaque honoring the Tucker family.
Ted has lived most of his adult life in San Francisco, California where he continues to live in retirement.
Ogeechee Area Hospice History
OAH was Statesboro’s first and remains the only nonprofit hospice in the area. Nancy Bryant founded OAH in 1994 with $50,000 in funds from Bulloch Memorial Hospital and the support of Ogeechee Home Health Agency, which was started in 1974. They operated as an in-home hospice until 2005.
In 2005, a 12 bed acute care facility was opened on land donated by Bulloch County on the former Bulloch Memorial Hospital site. In 2013, the OAH expanded the in-patient facility to add an additional 13 residential hospice care beds. The total project cost nearly $7 million, of which about $3 million was contributed from individuals and families living in the communities OAH serves.
There are only four in-patient hospice facilities south of Atlanta, Nancy Bryant, OAH CEO said. “Two in Macon, one in Vidalia and ours in Statesboro, all of which are operated by non-profits. No “for profit” hospice operates in-patient facilities for acute care because of the high operating costs plus end of life care costs are the most expensive. The lifeline to our operations is still assisting our clients with in-home hospice care as early as possible. Because of the public misunderstanding that the in-patient facility is now our primary focus, patients have been lured to other “for profit” hospices for their long-term hospice care and then transferred to us for the last few days of life.”
Return of Nancy Bryant as CEO
I last interviewed Nancy in August of 2018. Nancy had returned from retirement as the interim CEO. At that time, OAH was bleeding cash and there were concerns internally and externally regarding the long term viability of its’ operation. Through the story I wrote in the Stateboro Herald, our community began to respond, once again, to their call for help.
“One of the biggest changes I made was a complete refocusing in looking at our operations from a “Why” perspective, not a who or what, said Nancy. “We have a remarkable story, an incredible WHY we do what we do. Once we refocused on being the best we could be and in rediscovering our WHY, we saw operations improve dramatically in every area.”
“Our last interview was a very difficult one, OAH was in a place that seemed almost unrecoverable. DeWayne, you shared a story with me about how often people tell you how shocked they were when a business they loved closed seemingly without notice, and how it impacted them. Over and over, they shared with you how much they wish they had known the business was in trouble so they could have supported them more,” said Bryant. “Hearing that, I knew I owed it to our community to be honest about our challenges. Seeing this community respond again, like they did, inspired me and our staff to work harder to see this through”.
It is unimaginable that in just 14 months Nancy and her team have accomplished so much. Tonight’s gift not only confirms how valuable the work they do for our community is, but also serves as a huge thank you in action and words for what this organization means to our community and the families they serve with love, grace and dignity.
Impact of Gift
Mr. Tucker’s gift retires the $400K of capital debt owed by OAH. This alone frees up over $8K per month in debt service. The additional funds will help with renovations and much needed improvements to the facility and to help shore back up their reserve funds.
Ogeechee Area Hospice is the first choice in Hospice Care
OAH is our region’s first choice in hospice care because, as a non-profit, they are focused singularly on the WHY of providing the best end of life care possible for their patients either in their facility or at the patient’s home, nursing or retirement home or health care facility. In fact, 85 percent of the patients they serve daily are being cared for in their own home or a facility outside of the OAH in-patient facility.
OAH serves portions of eight counties in a 50 mile radius of Statesboro which include, Bulloch, Candler, Evans, Emanuel, Bryan, Jenkins and Effingham. They provide care-giving services and counseling to terminally ill patients who have been given six months or less to live.