Dr. Daniel J. Moran, center, received the Heritage Hospice Margaret Caldwell Spirit of Hospice Award Wednesday during his last day in the office. Moran, who served as Heritage Hospice’s medical director for about 10 years in the 1980s and 1990s, is retiring after practicing medicine for 37 years. Members of his family and Heritage Hospice staff came to his Kentucky One Primary Care office to give him the honor. From left, are: hospice’s Community and Provider Liaison Sharon Martin, Provider Liaison Miranda Perkins, Executive Director Janelle Wheeler, Moran, his wife, Dr. Katie Bright, and his sister-in-law Sallie Bright, Nursing Services Manager Pam Whitehouse, and Brenda Jones of the business department.
The 2016 Heritage Hospice’s Margaret Caldwell Spirit of Hospice Award winner embodies many of the qualities that the end of life service strives to offer.
Makes House Calls.
This year’s honor is awarded to Dr. Daniel J. Moran, who is retiring after practicing 37 years. He spent 10 years in the 1980s and 1990s as Heritage Hospice’s medical director. As testament to his popularity among patients, a line of people waiting to say goodbye snaked out in the parking lot at his recent retirement open house at Kentucky One Primary Care in Danville. His guests waited patiently as he exchanged pleasantries and hugs with many people whose lives he touched during his career.
Moran’s ability to care deeply about each one of his patients is his signature, says Dr. David Overstreet, who has practiced 24 years with Moran.
“He knew not just their medical situations, but he knew their social circumstances. He went to their funerals, their weddings and he participated in their lives,” says Overstreet, noting that Moran was his own mother’s doctor.
Dr. Overstreet says his colleague went the extra mile for his patients.
“He still made house calls to people who were too feeble and frail to come see him. He devoted an enormous amount of time to his patients because they needed him. That’s a rare thing in medicine today.”
These patient-doctor friendships were forged based on one important rule of thumb Moran has followed.
“One of my professors in medical school said if you listen to a patient long enough they will tell you what is wrong,” Moran confided in an interview at his family’s Boyle farm a few days after the retirement party.
He is seated on a comfortable couch, relaxing after a rigorous round of physical therapy.
His spinal pain stems from farm work and being a doctor.
“I’ve lifted too many patients, too many bales of hay. I’ve got a bad back,” he says.
Moran recalled his start with Heritage Hospice in the 1980s. The nonprofit holds a special place in Moran’s heart because mother-in-law, Pat Bright, was instrumental in getting the organization up and running in 1979. She was good friends with the woman for whom the Spirit of Hospice Award is named.
Anne Byrom, one of the first nurses to work at Heritage Hospice, approached Moran about becoming medical director. They were both at Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center in Danville, where Moran already was up to his elbows with his workload. He tried to turn down Byrom’s request but she wouldn’t take no for an answer.
“I said, ‘I’m too busy.’ I was working 60 to 70 hours. She said, ‘It’s busy people who get things done.’”
One of the takeaways of being a hospice medical director is that Moran does not hesitate to have conversations with patients about end-of-life care provided by hospice.
“If patients are getting to the end of life and if we can offer them the best quality of life for that last chapter of their life, it’s a wonderful gift to be able to offer.”
He believes in recommending hospice care.
“Many of my patients is terminal: COPD, end-stage cancer, end-stage heart disease. If we are going to take care of these people cradle to grave, someone’s got to be there and that’s where hospice comes in.”
Moran makes another important observation about hospice services.
“When the family gets overtaxed, I think hospice is more important in helping the caregiver.”
Janelle Wheeler, Heritage Hospice’s executive director, presented Dr. Moran with the
Margaret Caldwell Spirit of Hospice Award on Wednesday, June 22, his last day of work. “He has been an integral part of our organization over the years and is valued for his contribution in the hospice industry. We will miss his gentle nature and kind voice but wish him nothing but the best as he transitions to this new chapter in his life.”
Andy Baker, Heritage Hospice executive director when Moran was medical director, says Moran gave his all to the nonprofit’s work.
“Dr. Moran gave us incredible support and encouragement with his phone calls, personal visits and time that he spent at our team meetings. His genuine interest in people and his compassion for the things patients and families were dealing with at the time that hospice served them was very apparent to see. He has been a true friend to hospice.”
Noreta Royalty, a nurse at Heritage Hospice for 14 years, says Moran’s personality traits perfectly suited those needed at hospice.
“I was privileged to be working at Heritage Hospice when Dr. Dan Moran was medical director in the late ‘80s and ‘90s. I was very impressed that he wholeheartedly embraced the hospice philosophy for patient care. As a leader of our team, he was very knowledgeable, kind, compassionate, considerate and concerned for patients, families and hospice staff. He was very professional and always a perfect gentleman with a contagious smile.”
Moran’s wife of 40 years, pediatrician Katie Bright, appreciates her husband’s ability to connect with people.
“He is very curious, very outgoing. He has a real gift for making connections with people. He seems able to connect in some way with almost anyone, communicating that a little part of that person’s problem has also affected his life in some way (perhaps thorough things that happened with his mother, his siblings, a friend, his wife, our kids, etc.). He also has a lot of gentle mischief in him, which allows him to tease people in a way that deepens the connection. Patients can see that he cares about them as individuals, which leads to the respect, that goes both ways, between him and his patients.”