effie-c-grear_web.jpgWest Palm Beach, FL — Calling her a “Hero” and a “Champion of the Glades,” members of the Board of Commissioners of the Health Care District of Palm Beach County honored board member Effie C. Grear, EdD, as she completed her second and final consecutive volunteer term.

In her nearly nine years of service, Dr. Grear has helped lead the district as the sole board member who resides in the rural western area of the county known as the Glades. During her tenure, Dr. Grear has advanced access to quality health care in the Glades region, as well as the entire community.

“Dr. Grear’s dedication to ensure the health and well-being of the residents of Palm Beach County, especially in the Glades, is immeasurable,” said Health Care District Board Chair Jonathan R. Satter. “Her unwavering commitment as an advocate for improved access to health care has impacted many lives, and I am proud to have served on this board with her.”

As a Glades resident, educator and community leader since the mid-1950s, Dr. Grear has firsthand knowledge of the area’s challenging health care needs. The former principal of Glades Central High School in Belle Glade was appointed to the Health Care District Board by the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners in 2002 to represent the Glades communities. She was then reappointed in 2003 and again in 2007 for two consecutive four-year terms.

“The Health Care District is grateful to Dr. Grear for her years of service on the Board, her dedication to the health of our community, and her compassion for our residents,” said Ronald J. Wiewora, the district’s chief executive officer and chief medical officer. “The impact and breadth of Dr. Grear’s service will be appreciated for many years to come.”

In 2004, Dr. Grear began serving on the board of the former Glades General Hospital, a 60-year-old facility in Belle Glade that was owned and operated by the Health Care District. At that time, Glades General was the sole remaining hospital in a large region of more than 30,000 permanent residents. She assisted in physician recruitment to the rural acute-care facility and in 2005 began serving on the hospital’s Patient Safety and Quality Committee. She was instrumental in establishing a nurse education program for students at Palm Beach Community College in Belle Glade and has worked to expand the Federally Qualified Health Centers in the region.

When the hurricanes of 2005 hit Glades General Hospital, causing significant damage to the aging facility, Dr. Grear was instrumental in helping to plan for a new, 70-bed replacement hospital that would be centrally located in Belle Glade to serve the residents of the Glades communities. As a hospital Board member, she participated in naming the new hospital “Lakeside Medical Center.” Dr. Grear proudly cut the ceremonial ribbon marking the opening of the new hospital and was present when the first patient arrived on October 15, 2009, the morning Lakeside Medical Center opened and Glades General Hospital was retired.

In April 2010, Dr. Grear began serving as chair of the Glades Healthcare Foundation, which was established to raise capital funds for the hospital and other health initiatives in the Glades.

“My service on the Health Care District Board has been very important to me, especially since it helped bring about a new hospital for the Glades,” said Dr. Grear. “I thank the district board members for all that you have done to improve the health of our community and challenge you to do even more in the future.”

In her continued role in governance of the new hospital, Dr. Grear served on the Glades Rural Area Support Board as Secretary/Treasurer. In a heartfelt ceremony on September 15th, staff at Lakeside Medical Center gathered in the hospital cafeteria to thank Dr. Grear and wish her well. That same day at the Support Board’s monthly meeting, her fellow board members praised Dr. Grear for being a pillar of the community and thanked her for her service and enduring contributions to the hospital.

“The Glades region has benefited greatly from Dr. Grear’s leadership and patient advocacy,” said Board Chair James T. Howell. “She has been such a pleasure to work with and serves as a role model for all.”

“You are a true professional and a class act,” said Juan C. Cocuy, board Vice-Chair. ”It’s an honor to have worked with you.”

“I’m so proud to know you,” added Donia A. Roberts, Glades Rural Area Support Board Member. “I hope to one day have spread as much love and wisdom as you have in your lifetime.”

Photo: Effie C. Grear