For the media

Honoring a Sharp legend

By The Health News Team | February 1, 2022
Sharp Grossmont Hospital volunteer Doug Smith

Doug Smith leaves a legacy of service and innovation after dedicating 40 years to Sharp Grossmont Hospital.

Every organization has its giant — a person who leaves an indelible mark. And when their name comes up, it’s met with a genuine “I just loved him,” “there will never be another,” and other tender tributes and memories.

One of these legends is Sharp Grossmont Hospital employee-turned-volunteer Doug Smith. Doug was a staple of Sharp Grossmont’s history and culture for more than 40 years between his years as an employee and his volunteer time. Doug recently passed, leaving a legacy of service and innovation, and a tearful collection of lifelong friends.

Beginning an extraordinary legacy
Doug joined the Grossmont hospital team in 1973 as a social worker and manager of the social services department before moving into the newly created position of patient representative. He was a natural at handling patient complaints and concerns, and a tireless advocate for patient rights.

SGH employee volunteer Doug Smith

In 1973, Doug Smith was appointed as Sharp Grossmont Hospital's social services director.

During his nearly three decades as an employee, Doug was responsible for some of the hospital’s signature programs, many of which are thriving today. These include:

  • Santa’s Korner holiday gift drive

  • Senior Resource Center

  • Volunteer chaplain program

  • Volunteer clown program

  • Care-A-Van service for seniors and patients with disabilities

Forever dedicated to Sharp Grossmont
Upon retiring, Doug vowed he would spend his days gardening and doting on his grandchildren. But within a month of leaving Sharp Grossmont, he returned — this time as a volunteer at the auxiliary’s Thrift Korral and Sharp Grossmont’s Senior Resource Center.

“As an employee, and then as a volunteer, Doug had a huge impact in making Sharp Grossmont Hospital the person-centered care organization that it is,” says Linda Van Fulpen, manager of Sharp Grossmont’s Volunteer Services. “He truly understood all of the things that impact a person’s perception of their health care experience.”

Doug racked up more than 5,000 volunteer hours during his “retirement,” stepping outside of his regular roles whenever needed. One time, he even dressed up as a California Raisin to encourage employees to boost their red blood cell counts with iron-rich foods. When the wildfires hit San Diego County in 2007, Doug was one of the first to volunteer to staff the hospital’s emergency day care center, arriving each day at 6 am.

A model of The Sharp Experience
Doug was a recipient of Sharp’s prestigious Spirit of Caring Award, and earned the Healthcare Heroes award from Grossmont Healthcare District in 2009.

Beth Morgante, vice president of major gift philanthropy for the Foundations of Sharp HealthCare, knew Doug, in part due to his 27 years as a donor to the Grossmont Hospital Foundation. One year, he even donated his pride and joy: a 1960s two-door Chevy station wagon he called “Lotta,” for “Lotta Bolts,” to auction off in support of the foundation’s fundraising campaign.

Beth puts Doug in a league of his own.

“The programs he came up with and developed were very much in the spirit of The Sharp Experience, long before we ever coined the phrase,” says Beth.

“He was the nicest, kindest and funniest man, with a big heart and an innovative mind,” says Beth. “He was truly ahead of his time as to where we needed to go as a hospital. His work made a difference — and will for a long time — for our patients and our team.”

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