Brown was named President and CEO of Hospice in 1982. When she started, Community Hospice of Lexington, as it was known then, served 18 patients in Fayette County with five staff and 38 volunteers.
Today, HOB serves nearly 700 patients daily in 32 central, southeastern and northern Kentucky counties. Staff totals more than 400 and the volunteer base is near 1,000.
Bob Milward was chairman of the Hospice Board of Directors when Brown was hired. He remembers the Board determining that Brown was the “right person to lead Hospice.”
History shows it was a wise choice.
Brown is recognized across the nation as an expert in end-of-life care. Medical writer and healthcare journalist Larry Beresford called her “one of the most successful, innovative and respected leaders of the American hospice movement, with a record of achievement that speaks for itself.”
Brown was instrumental in helping Kentucky become the first state to add hospice care as a Medicaid benefit in 1986.
In 2000, Brown was the force behind HOB receiving a Center to Advance Palliative Care grant, making it the first hospice in the country to host a Palliative Care Leadership Center.
Brown has served on many local, state and national boards, including a term as Chair of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.
“Her program has been at the forefront of palliative care services and serves as a model to the entire hospice community,” said NHPCO President and CEO, J. Donald Schumacher.
This year Brown was awarded with the first Galen Miller Leadership Award that is given to a leader who has worked diligently to improve quality, access and care delivery for all people facing serious and life-limiting illness.
Brown was the first recipient of a new award introduced by the Kentucky Association of Hospice and Palliative Care — the Gretchen M. Brown Lifetime Achievement Award.
This award recognizes hospice professionals or volunteers who have dedicated their careers to forwarding the mission of hospice and palliative care.
KAHPC says the award was named for Brown because she is a true champion for hospice, care of the dying and their families.
Her passion for end-of-life care has made her a leader not only in Kentucky but across the country, and her dedication serves as an ongoing inspiration to others.
Because of her legacy, thousands of Kentuckians have received quality end-of-life care.