On Amy Richter’s badge reads a series of letters after her name: MBA, FHFMA, CPA, CGMA to signify different certifications and degrees.
Richter, who has a master in business administration, with an emphasis in management, a fellow of the Health Care Financial Management Association, is a certified public accountant, and is a chartered global management accountant, added one more title on April 30: president and CEO Hospice of Southern Illinois.
Richter joined Hospice of Southern Illinois in December 2009, as the chief financial officer. She had been serving as the interim CEO since January of this year, when she took over for Rebecca Wisdom, who retired.
Before working for hospice, Richter worked on the Missouri side of the Mississippi River as the corporate director for financial and regulatory reporting for what is now SSM Health. She oversaw the hospice and home care operations, from the corporate side, among other things.
The Belleville native said she saw the CEO role for Hospice of Southern Illinois as a natural career progression.
“I enjoy getting out in the community. I love this community. I truly do. We participate a lot. My family was up at the Art on the Square. We go to the chili cookoff ... it’s a great community, and I love being out and being the voice for the organization,” said Richter, who lives in Columbia. “It’s a different role than our CFO role. I was based more in the office. I enjoy getting out in the community and going to our other offices and working. ... I think it’s important to have that visibility for the employees to be able to talk to me and for them to get to know me better. Many of them already know me well, some more than others. I care about what their thoughts are about the organization and sharing of ideas. I’m very open to that.”
Richter recently talked with the BND about her job as president and CEO of Hospice of Southern Illinois.
Q: Do you have a personal story of hospice care that attracted you to this position?
A: “I’ve had family members in hospice care in the past. Two that come to mind. My grandfather on my mother’s side was in hospice care and also an uncle. I know what valuable services and meaningful services they could provide when you need that support. It takes some of the burden off the family of just the daily caregiving needs and it could be overwhelming at times. It’s just a tremendous help, from my own experience, from what I observed. And we’ve gotten positive comments over the years. I think most people don’t realize there’s many hospices. They think of hospice as one organization. There’s many hospices throughout the country. I think the service hospices provide is tremendous.”
Q: What are some of those services?
A: “We have nurses that see the patients in various areas. They go into (patients’) homes, they also see them in hospitals, in our long-term care facilities, we go to where the patient is. So the nurses will see them. We also have hospice aids that go out to see the patients. We have social workers and counselors and many of the bereavement services happen after the patient has passed. We also have a full-time medical director and an associate medical director that work with us. We also have a pharmacist. And we have many volunteers. We have over 300 volunteers for our organization ... If the family would like to have a volunteer, volunteers will also go into the home or facility and provide service.”
Q: In your role as CEO and president, is there anything you want to accomplish?
A: “I think we want to continue to provide excellent care to our patients and support to the families. We also are highly focused on quality. There’s been a lot of changes in the health care arena in the last several years. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has different regulations specifically for hospices, and one of the things we’re working on a right now is a huge project on emergency preparedness. By Nov. 1, we have to have an emergency preparedness plan in place that meets specific regulations. We already have an emergency preparedness plan, but this is coming down from the government that hospices will have an emergency preparedness plan. It’s really partnering with agencies in your community and things of that nature to make sure patients and employees know where to go in an emergency situation.”
Q: Would it be helping with bereavement right away?
A: “There would be a team of people we would provide, but the important thing is knowing where your patients are, make sure they get notified where they’re supposed to go in an emergency. Make sure they have their medications, some people have higher level needs, and they need to have a generator going. There’s all different types of situations going that can occur.”
Q: There’s no LPN, there’s no MD, there’s no RN on your name badge.
A: “I have a completely different background. Our former CEO was a social worker. I’m very excited. I feel that my finance background is a good solid foundation for this role. Having that business sense and knowing if we move in a particular direction, I’ll know what those financial ramifications of that is, and have a good picture of what that end result will look like.”
Q: What do you want people to know about hospice?
A: “What they don’t know is we could provide care. If you have a terminal illness and you’ve been diagnosed with six months or less, and your physician or medical director can have you enter our program if you’re appropriate, so there is an evaluation that has to be done to see if you’re appropriate. That’s what our goal is, to enhance and improve quality of life for people. It’s not just for the last seven days or the last 10 days. We can provide care to someone over the course of months and improve the quality of their life if we get them into our program early enough. I think that’s the biggest challenge that we have. It’s difficult because I think people feel that when they enter hospice care, that means they’ve given up hope, and that’s not what we’re about. We’re about making the patient comfortable, providing quality of life for them in those remaining weeks (or) months, whatever it might be for them. I think in general there’s still a great percentage of the population that feels that hospice care is really at the very end of someone’s life. It doesn’t have to be.”
About Amy Richter
- Job: president and CEO Hospice of Southern Illinois
- Age: 56
- Spouse: Amy is married to Marian Margean, 49
- Children: Richter has a son, Ryan Richter, 23, and a stepson, Cristian Margean, 20