Already missing Roddey

by Ben Robinson

I’m kind of concerned about a situation.

Baptist Easley CEO Roddey E. Gettys has announced that he will be retiring at the end of September next year.

I know that is still a year away. I realize that time frame probably depends upon how long it will take hospital officials to find somebody who can handle the job duties (note I did not say “replace Roddey”). And I have every bit of confidence that the medical professionals at Baptist Easley will continue to serve the community long after Roddey’s retirement. If you listen to Roddey, you’d think he has little to do with the hospital’s success, but that’s just Roddey being modest.

I’m selfishly concerned because Roddey Gettys is my friend, and I will miss working with him — even if it is in an indirect manner.

One memory that stands out is from several years ago, when Roddey and I were visiting the same room at the hospital and a man whose job was to clean the linen came by and picked up the dirty sheets.

“Do you know what that man’s job is?” Roddey asked.
“To wash the sheets?” I asked in response.

“He takes this linen, which has been exposed to the many germs that are always present in a hospital room, clean the sheets, and return them to the room as germ-free as possible,” Roddey said. “If he does not do his job properly and our patients are commonly exposed to new germs, who do you think suffers?”
“I guess the patient,” I said.

“We all do,” Roddey said. “Because one person was negligent in his job, a patient may suffer, and that hurts all of us. We work as a team here, and every member of the team needs to know what their duty is and how much it means to us that everybody gives their best for the team.”

I was stunned by the clear logic Roddey had shared. People would give their best if their managers admitted how important their efforts were. I wondered if Roddey was interested in buying a community newspaper, because that philosophy could go far in whatever field it was applied to.

That is one reason I have always admired Roddey. He approaches every problem with common-sense solutions, even though he is often working with some of the sharpest minds in the Upstate. He doesn’t try to impress anyone — he just naturally does. His secret seems to be that he cares about the people he works with and the patients at Baptist Medical.

A few years ago, Julie Capaldi came up with a great idea to help raise money for the United Way. She challenged Roddey and I to compete to see who could lose the most weight. After two weeks, we would allow other contestants to enter and raise funds for the United Way.

Roddey had a belly-area that was larger than normal. As many of you know, my belly had the same condition (and, by the way, mine still does). Roddey agreed to the competition, and laughed along as I wrote about the situation in my humor column.

We both won — losing pounds while raising money to help Pickens County families.

I will always remember Roddey’s sincereness as he was supportive during my friend Cam Underhill’s final battle with cancer. Cam and I had renewed our friendship from high school not long before she found out that the cancer in her body that she had fought before was coming back.

Roddey was Cam’s boss at the hospital. He did what he could to support Cam as she faced this final battle for life. I appreciated so much how supportive Roddey was of my friend. I got the feeling that Roddey, much like me, wished there was some way to take Cam’s place in the battle for life.

So Roddey will retire within a year’s time. Let us enjoy as he continues to serve the community, and appreciate the example of service he has given all of us.