Fellow Workers Remember Retiring Hospice CEO
By Christine Litteken, Hospice of Southern Illinois
BELLEVILLE, IL - Hospice of Southern Illinois is a not-for-profit organization that thrives on tradition, care and heart. Their program started 35 years ago from a community need. Diligent volunteers ensured to deem what Hospice of Southern Illinois is, what would be expected moving forward, and that it was passed on throughout the years.
Three named volunteers, Sammie Greisbach, Sister Leona Luechtefeld, and Betty Buckley, told CEO of 19 years, Rebecca Wisdom, during her orientation in 1997 to “never lose sight of what we are, what is expected… and the tradition, care and heart.” It was their wind beneath Rebecca’s wings, lifting her up and supporting her, that she carried on the mission of Hospice of Southern Illinois for 19 wonderful years leading up to her retirement at the end of this year. The group thanked Rebecca Wisdom for making such an impact on our past, present and future, and they celebrate Rebecca for her contributions to their mission and growth and will miss her dearly for her heart and passion.
“I can leave this experience for my next journey because of the people who are here. I can exhale, because it’s not about me the CEO leaving, it’s about the mission, tradition and heart of those who are here: the leaders, employees, volunteers and community.” It was a personal experience that gave Rebecca the emotional and physical capacity to motivate her to take on the positions she held throughout her professional career. Rebecca began her professional career as a social worker upon graduating from SIUE. She continued her practice in home health and hospice all of her career. She became a director for a hospice in southern Illinois that then led her to the “meant-to-be” CEO position at Hospice of Southern Illinois. She reflected on her 19 year journey being most proud of never losing sight of the mission. This is not a position of power, politics, or competition. It’s a position to ensure our care remained the same regarding the mission and tradition, but never losing momentum to be better, more caring and forward-thinking for our patients, families, community and employees.
There is a trend throughout this story, surely it’s noticed. The mission is at the top of the list always! Rebecca stated, “If it were not for our mission, the care we provide, and the dedication of our employees and volunteers, I would not feel as confident that this is the right time for me to say goodbye to something I am so passionate about.” She wishes people knew that so many of our referrals come from those who experience the mission, the care and the people! While healthcare is always evolving, the trust of families is constant and the honor of caring for their loved ones will never be forgotten. People may be surprised to know that although this is one of the hardest things she has ever had to do, yet she has faith that she will “be planted where she needs to grow.” She looks forward to re-establishing relationships, taking time to breathe and maybe dabble in some gardening, crocheting, and traveling, but only to put the people she loves first as they have been supporting her all this time. “Life happens, and you have to do what’s right for your family,” just as Hospice of Southern Illinois does when providing care for the individuals who need end-of-life care.
Hospice of Southern Illinois is your community not-for-profit hospice program serving 27 counties in southern Illinois since 1981. Their commitment at Hospice of Southern Illinois is to be with its patients and their loved ones through the changing needs of the end-of-life process and the grief experience.
For more information about Hospice of Southern Illinois, visit their website, www.hospice.org, or contact Lisa Phillipson or Deborah Hogg, 1-800-233-1708.