Where we came from…

WFD-Building The first effort at creating a hospice in Dothan was led by Mary Lucy Floyd and Father Leo Blanchet in the 1980s. The original hospice was named Helping Hands Hospice. Due to lack of knowledge about running a hospice, that effort struggled.

The hospice soon became a department at Southeast Alabama Medical Center and was known as Southeast Hospice. The hospice continued to struggle, and in 1990, became a separate entity known as Wiregrass Hospice. Both area hospitals provided funding support, and Mary Julia Lee brought her vision and drive. Mrs. Lee, along with Father Leo, Dr. Paul Adams, and Mike Bailey, served on the initial board of directors. In 1994, the board hired Ray Shrout as Executive Director, and John Edge joined the board of directors.

How we got where we are today…

By 2005, with the hospice continuing to grow, the board had to ask itself some difficult questions. With over 600 employees, $45 million in revenue, spread over a huge area, and still operating with the same management team, changes would need to be made to manage the huge responsibility.

Later in 2005, after a great deal of discussion and due diligence, the board entered into an agreement to sell the hospice to an Atlanta-based company, Healthfield Group, Inc.  In September of 2005, the proceeds from the sale of the hospice were transferred to Wiregrass Foundation. The hospice board was elected as the founding board of the Foundation, and John Edge became President/Chairman of the board.

What we have done so far and where we are going…

Since 2007, succession of management has allowed the foundation to thrive and assume a major role in the community.  As of 2019, the foundation has awarded over 1000 grants totaling over $73 million (this includes a $20 million long-term commitment to the Wiregrass Public Safety Center).  The grants covered each of the areas of our mission…health, education, and quality of life.  Going forward, the foundation will invest approximately $5 million per year in the community.  Done correctly, the Foundation should make a significant, long term impact on the Wiregrass area.


Excerpts from presentation by John Edge (updated)