Leigh Atherton Wins Life Care’s Danette Henry Servant Leader Award

Friday, December 20, 2013
Pictured from left to right are: Forrest Preston, Life Care founder and chairman; Leigh Atherton, director of public relations; Aaron Atherton, Leigh’s husband; Pati Michels, Leigh’s mother; and Beecher Hunter, Life Care president.
Pictured from left to right are: Forrest Preston, Life Care founder and chairman; Leigh Atherton, director of public relations; Aaron Atherton, Leigh’s husband; Pati Michels, Leigh’s mother; and Beecher Hunter, Life Care president.

Life Care Centers of America presented its Danette Henry Servant Leader Award to Leigh Atherton, director of public relations, on Dec. 12.

The award was given during the company’s annual Corporate Christmas Party and recognizes an associate at the corporate offices in Cleveland for outstanding customer service to Life Care’s more than 220 facilities nationwide.

“Leigh has a passion for serving our associates throughout the country in pursuit of their caregiving responsibilities,” said Beecher Hunter, Life Care president. “She demonstrates that commitment through exercise of her considerable talents in public relations and customer service initiatives, and in leadership of the PR department. Life Care is blessed to have her contributions.”

The Danette Henry Servant Leader Award, originally the Corporate Support Award, was renamed to honor the legacy of Danette Henry, Life Care’s director of payroll who passed away in early 2008. Henry was a two-time winner of the Corporate Support Award.

“Receiving an award named after a woman who set the customer service bar so high is a humbling experience,” said Ms. Atherton. “When it comes to serving others, I always try to stop and think, ‘How would I want my family member to be treated?’”

Ms. Atherton, who has worked for Life Care for five years, was praised for stepping forward into the leadership role of the department during a time of change, despite being one of the youngest in the department. She is often called on to serve as an ambassador in the community, sometimes filling in for the president at events. She is also a support to field associates in difficult situations, being among the first contacts for crisis communications.

In April, the father of an associate from a Life Care facility in Kansas had a stroke and was admitted to a hospital in Chattanooga. The associate left in a hurry and did not have extra money for gas or a place to stay. The executive director of that facility contacted the Public Relations department for help, and Ms. Atherton worked with another member of her team to provide a hotel, food and gas for the daughter. Ms. Atherton then drove to the hospital to deliver a care basket and express her support for the associate and her family.

“Taking care of the Life Care associate was a team effort; it took many hands to line up the hotel, food and gas money,” said Ms. Atherton. “I loved being able to deliver the basket and make the personal connection; I wanted that associate to know that – even hours from her Life Care facility – the Life Care family would take care of her.”

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