Local Woman Named Hospital Hero by State Organization

Staff Report From Athens CEO

Tuesday, November 14th, 2017

St. Mary’s Sacred Heart Hospital Board of Directors Member Leslie Fordham, DVM, was awarded the prestigious Georgia Hospital Heroes Award at the Georgia Hospital Association’s annual Hospital Hero Awards luncheon Nov. 9 in Atlanta. Fordham, who was one of only nine individuals statewide to receive the award, was recognized for her work with the Outdoor Dream Foundation, an organization that grants outdoor adventures to children who have been diagnosed with terminal or life-threatening illnesses.

As a volunteer board member for the hospital, Fordham is a vital part of efforts to improve quality and perception of care. However, it is her work with the Outdoor Dream Foundation that the hospital highlighted in her nomination. ODF offers pediatric patients with severe or terminal illnesses an opportunity to go hunting or fishing, often far from home, at no charge. The experiences give the patients time away from thinking about their medical ailments and allows them a much-needed escape.

Fordham, a veterinarian as well as a fifth-generation farmer and experienced hunter, began her involvement with ODF when she was asked to assist a terminally ill child whose dream was to go deer hunting in Wyoming. Since then, as part of ODF's team of volunteers, she has taken numerous children who have terminal cancer, heart transplant rejection, Duchenne's muscular dystrophy, brain tumors, and other life-limiting conditions into the woods for the simple pleasure of hunting.

For the children and teens, hunting is a special way of being outside. It is active, requires focus, allows time to be outside in nature and offers a release from daily medical troubles. As a champion for children in their most vulnerable times, Fordham’s work has greatly benefited St. Mary’s Sacred Heart Hospital and the entire community.

“Leslie Fordham’s dedication to ensuring these patients can enjoy nature and truly focus on something other than their illnesses is very significant,” said GHA President and CEO Earl Rogers. “She has found a way to offer these patients time away from their daily troubles and is a most-deserving recipient of this award.”

"We are so proud of Leslie for being named one of Georgia's Hospital Heroes," said St. Mary's Health Care System President and CEO Don McKenna. "Her energy, compassion, can-do spirit and knowledge of our community are a vital part of our successful efforts to continuously improve quality at St. Mary's Sacred Heart Hospital. What's more, she is a champion for children in the most stressful and vulnerable of circumstances. The time and compassion she gives to these kids and their families is priceless."