by Andrea Graham
CEO of Appling Healthcare
I started my journey at Appling Healthcare in August of 2015. On my first day of work at Appling Healthcare, I felt different than I had in any other job I had held. I felt purpose. I felt that everyone here at Appling Healthcare cared deeply about the patients and residents within the organization and strived to provide the best experience for everyone who utilized the services of Appling Healthcare.
As I progressed in my career here at Appling Healthcare, I have worn many hats. I first served in the direct patient care of our patients and residents as a clinical pharmacist and the Director of Pharmacy. Serving in this capacity gave me first-line access to see all the amazing care that is given to our patrons. Serving in a rural community has always given me so much pride. Although our resources may be limited, the knowledge that rural clinical providers never ceases to amaze me. These rural providers go above and beyond to take in any and all education provided, both from within the organization and outside of the organization, on their personal time to be prepared to take care of our patients and residents.
As I continued in my role as the Director of Pharmacy, I started taking on new roles within Appling Healthcare as changes occurred. I served as the Chief Quality Officer, Compliance Officer, Risk Management, and Chief Operating Officer. Through each of these roles, I got to experience Appling Healthcare in many different ways. I got to see how all of the different facets that make up the patient experience come together. Although each patient experience originates in a different area, whether it be the Emergency Department, the doctor’s office, or outpatient service, all departments of our organization contribute to the experience. Through my different leadership roles, I could see that not only did the clinical staff go above and beyond for our patrons, but also staff in non-clinical areas (such as Finance, Health Information Management, Revenue Cycle, and Human Resources) all shared the same passion for creating the best patient experience for our patients and residents.
As I moved into the role of Chief Executive Officer of Appling Healthcare, I thought a lot about how I could take all of the different opportunities I have had in our organization and all the passion I have seen in each different department and build unity within our organization to show we are all on the same page.
As many of you know, I lost my father last year. My dad was an avid sports enthusiast, and growing up, I spent most of my childhood at some sporting events. During my dad’s eulogy, the preacher told us a story of the 1924 World Series between the New York Giants and the Washington Senators. The story goes: The New York Giants and the Washington Senators were tied after six games in the 1924 World Series. In the final game at Griffith Stadium to determine the winner of the 1924 World Series, the two teams were entering the ninth inning, and the score was tied at three runs each.
The New York Giants scored no runs and The Washington Senators came to bat. The Washington Senator fans screamed for one lone run, which would win the series and the world championship for their team. The first two batters made outs and it looked like there would be extra innings. Then, a player named Leon ‘Goose’ Goslin came to the plate.
Two strikes were called, and then two balls. The crowd was watching every pitch. Goslin stepped into the ball on the fifth pitch and slammed it to left-center field. The crowd was going crazy as it seemed this hit may have been a home run. As it turns out the ball hit just inches below the top of the wall and fell back onto the field.
As Goslin was running the bases he slowed down for a triple. His third base coach waved him on to head into home plate for an in-the-park home run. Goslin slid into home in a cloud of dust, seemingly a split second before the tag. The catcher followed the routine of throwing the ball around the bases, just in case, while waiting for the umpire to make the call. The umpire delayed his call. After consulting with the other umpires, he cried, ‘You’re out!’
The Washington Senator’s Manager, Bucky Harris, and his team and fans rushed onto the field, protesting the call. The umpire calmed the crown and proclaimed, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, the batter is out…not because he didn’t beat the ball at home plate but because he didn’t touch first base!’ The players were always required to touch each base with their foot as they rounded the bases. Goslin didn’t do this!
The preacher went on to say, “Getting up to bat, hitting the ball, and running the bases won’t count if you miss First Base. We may look like we’ve made it Home. But the Umpire who sees it all and knows we must play by the rules will call us ‘out.’”
Although the preacher was speaking about my father’s salvation in his eulogy I held onto these words. I thought about these words and how they applied to me my journey in my life and my role as Appling Healthcare’s CEO. And this is where Team C.A.R.E evolved from. In all the experiences I have had at Appling I knew that I wanted us all to see that we are all on the same team. We share the same Mission. We cannot do this by not touching first base. If we focus solely on what is going on in one area and not the other we will not make it to home plate.
Home plate for Appling Healthcare is building a sustainable organization to provide care for Appling County for many years to come and serve generations to come. In order to reach home plate we must focus on People, Quality, Finance, Service, Growth, and Community.