SMC's Rick Diaz Named Statewide Hospital Hero

February 15, 2013

Rick Diaz, general manager of dietary services, was recently honored as a statewide “Hospital Hero” at a luncheon in Birmingham hosted by the Alabama Hospital Association (AlaHA). The association’s 10th annual contest is an effort to honor the dedication of hospital employees and to highlight health careers. Up to six local Hospital Heroes were chosen in each of seven regional areas of the state. From that pool, nine men and women were selected as statewide heroes, and one physician was selected as the state’s Hospital Physician Hero.
“It really makes you proud to be a part of the hospital field when you hear stories like the ones co-workers tell about these heroes,” said J. Michael Horsley, FACHE, president of the Alabama Hospital Association. “The men and women we are honoring truly represent the best in health care; they are people who make a difference every day.”
For 13 years Rick Diaz has been the operations manager for Springhill Medical Center’s contracted dietary services program. In that role he supervises a large staff that he is known to motivate through holding regular “huddles” in which he leads cheers, prayers, pep talks and other creative activities.
Mr. Diaz often volunteers to help with projects that go beyond his job description, including chairing the Hospital Week planning committee and serving on the Technology Day committee. He has also earned a reputation for implementing innovative ideas, a recent example being an overhaul of the hospital’s food service known as “At Your Request,” which allows patients to order whatever they want within their prescribed diet.
"Even though Rick gets his paycheck from Sodexo he is Springhill Medical Center to the core," said Mr. Jeff St. Clair, Springhill President & CEO. "He is a true asset, and we are very lucky he chose us as his workplace since he has had many opportunities to go elsewhere due to his success."
According to one of his co-workers, “His ideas usually spring from a desire to improve processes, to improve the patient experience, to reduce waste and to meet a need in the community.”
His desire to help has led Mr. Diaz to personally raise more than $150,000 for charity during his time at the hospital. His outreach efforts have included fundraising for the American Heart Association, March of Dimes, Boys and Girls Club, United Way and many other organizations. His department also spearheaded and coordinated the hospital’s first Earth Day event, which is now an annual community activity.