Thankful for 117 Years

The SCHA Family will miss these inspiring leaders who injected fun into the workplace, even when forced into photo booths at staff social events.

While 2016 brings new challenges like any other new year, it will be especially difficult without the leadership of Jim Head, Lucy Marcum, and Patti Smoake, who will retire at the end of the year after a combined 117 years of service to SCHA.

Raised in New York with degrees from Johns Hopkins University and Dartmouth College, Jim Head brought a lacrosse player’s build and academic pedigree not often seen in the South Carolina nonprofit sector. He began his career as an accountant in the Washington, D.C. office of Ernst & Whinney before an assignment to a hospital feasibility study led him to health care consulting.  In September 1979, Head began what he believed would be a short stint as vice president of finance for the South Carolina Hospital Association. Now, 36 years later, that “short stint” with SCHA is coming to a close. Head’s major highlights at SCHA include his work to establish the state’s first indigent care pool for vulnerable citizens and his service as interim CEO during a transitional period for SCHA in 2004. While Head says what he will miss most about SCHA is the people and the relationships, President & CEO Thornton Kirby believes access to office sweets may have been a key motivator for his success at the Association. According to Thornton, “Jim is a policy professional and All-American lacrosse player…who will do anything for cookies.” Jim looks forward to traveling, coaching lacrosse, and spending time with his two grandkids—and hopefully more, he says—in the coming years.

Patti Smoake was fresh out of the University of South Carolina when a friend’s recommendation led her to SCHA in 1976. Excited and ready for an industry that she didn’t know much about, her first assignment was a special hospital trustee education program funded by the Duke Endowment. That program led to another Duke-funded project designed to improve understanding and cooperation among the three hospital leadership groups. Smoake played a key role in planning the very first Trustee/Administrator/Physician (TAP) Conference, which continues after 35 years as one of the most highly anticipated and well-attended health care events in the state. Over the past four decades, her work has extended beyond education to advocacy and communications. As vice president for communications, she played a key role in South Carolina becoming the first tobacco state where all hospital campuses worked together to become smoke-free; in the creation of SC Safe Kids whose goal is to stop preventable injuries of children; and in the 2015 launch of SC PricePoint, a web-based guide to health care costs in South Carolina. When asked about her time with SCHA, Smoake said, “I always felt fulfilled here. I always felt like my work meant something.” Of course, given her modesty, she may not realize how much her work meant, but we certainly do. Smoake looks forward to traveling the US in a motorhome with her husband Greg when she retires next month, so look for her on the open road!

Before Lucy Marcum became the executive assistant to past SCHA CEOs William Yates and Ken Shull, she was an executive assistant for the CEO of South Carolina Governor John C. West. It was an experience that exposed her to politics, but also to the fast-paced and often hectic schedule that comes with working directly for the one in charge. She served South Carolina’s 109th Governor before leaving to come work for SCHA in 1973. Scheduling meetings, managing travel agendas, and planning last-minute events became second nature for Marcum as she used her southern charm to make everyone feel welcome and accommodated for at SCHA meetings. Marcum was so well-known for her organizational skills and hospitality that when SCHA moved to a new building with an expansive new conference center in 2004, she was the natural fit to become the director of events. As director of the William L. Yates Conference Center, Marcum loves interacting with people and the sense of accomplishment that comes when an event goes well. Marcum has three grandchildren and looks forward to spending more time with family when she retires next month. A dedicated animal-lover, she also hopes to spend more time volunteering with animals, although she does worry about her penchant for bringing that type of work home with her. After rescuing dogs, cats, a squirrel, a raccoon, an owl, a couple chickens, and a baby possum, Marcum’s husband isn’t sure he needs another pet. We wish her the best in her retirement!

On behalf of SCHA, thank you to Jim Head, Patti Smoake, and Lucy Marcum for all you have done for SCHA and the hospitals we serve! South Carolina’s hospital community is a better place because of your dedication.