Dougherty County Commissioner John Hayes, left, makes remarks at a retirement ceremony for Albany Community Hospice Director Patty Woodall, far right, as Phoebe Putney Health System Senior Vice President of Regional Operations Tim Trottier, listens. Woodall officially retires today, having served as the program's director since 1991. (April 11, 2013)
ALBANY, Ga. -- Patty Woodall, considered a pioneer in hospice health care in Southwest Georgia, was honored Thursday -- the day before her last as director of Albany Community Hospice and the Willson Hospice House.
A reception honoring Woodall was held at Willson Hospice House Thursday afternoon. Dougherty County Commissioner John Hayes was among those in attendance to present a proclamation at the reception honoring her work.
"I've been fortunate to work with the people here," she said at the celebration. "Those are the ones who really do the hard work; I've been a small part of it.
"I hate to leave, but I know I am leaving it in capable hands."
Today is Woodall's last day with Albany Community Hospice.
"It is very bittersweet (to leave)," she said. "It's never been me that's done all this; it's the staff. They will continue on without a bump in the road.
"(The turnout at the retirement celebration) makes me feel wonderful. I've been with Phoebe for 26 years; I've made a lot of friends."
Taking Woodall's place will be Joyce Ann Williams, who has been working with Albany Community Hospice for 16 years, the last nine of which she has served as a patient care coordinator.
Williams says that she has no immediate plans to institute any changes at Willson Hospice House, which exists to provide care to patients at the end-of-life stage, as well as provide comfort to families.
"She is leaving us with a very stable program, but we are open to any new services," she said. "Our goal is to provide great customer service at a difficult time.
"Our goal is to make this time as less difficult as we can."
Woodall joined Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in 1986, the same year Albany Community Hospice was established. She served as the director of nursing education at Phoebe and began volunteering with the hospice program. In 1991, Albany Community Hospice became affiliated with Phoebe and Woodall was soon named director of the program.
A graduate of the Medical College of Georgia and the University of Alabama-Birmingham, Woodall taught pediatrics and maternal child courses at Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus for 12 years prior to joining Phoebe. During her hospice career she has helped the program grow to serve 11 counties in the region, officials at Phoebe say.
Hospice has programs for all ages including camps for children and adolescents, run with the help of more than 70 volunteers. Officials say Woodall was an integral part of the development of Willson Hospice House, a $13 million, inpatient hospice facility that opened in May 2010 and as since been functioning as the home to Albany Community Hospice.