A Tribute to David Hayden


posted on Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Sometimes life isn't fair. That axiom is used so much it is now cliché. For David Hayden, when someone would utter that cliché, he would reply, "The fair only comes once a year, usually in October." David knew the playing field isn't always level, especially for the patients he served as executive director of Low Country Health Care System. However, that didn't stop this determined man from expanding services at the Fairfax-based FQHC and helping improve access to care.

David sadly passed away unexpectedly on May 12. He leaves behind a rich legacy of serving the underserved for nearly four decades. He was formerly the chairman of the SC Primary Health Care Association, where he was a politically savvy ambassador for the CHC movement.

A Walterboro native, he graduated from the University of South Carolina with a teaching degree. He would teach just not in the traditional sense from the classroom. Ashley Barnes, PhD, was one of his best students.

The course was improving access to rural health care. Ashley and David worked together at Low Country for nine years. Ashley was fresh out of college. In David, she found an amazing mentor. She watched as David set and achieved lofty goals for Low Country, such as establishing a pharmacy at their Fairfax location. David would move mountains for his patients and think outside the box to deliver the services the community needed.

"His heart was bigger than his grant sometimes and his desire to help our surrounding communities was strong," said Ashley.

When David left Low Country as executive director in 2012, he comfortably turned the leadership keys over to Ashley, who became Low Country's CEO.

"There are not many places or people that would invest their time to work with someone who is young and straight out of school to develop their skills, education and training in order for them to be successful long-term in their field," she said of David.  "I am honored and blessed to have worked for him. I am a CHC CEO because of him. He is truly missed and I am forever grateful for his friendship and kindness throughout my career."

 As CEO of Low Country, Ashley applied David's lessons when the hospital in Barnwell closed down, choking access to health care for the community.  Under her leadership, Low Country extended office hours, added pharmacy services, and built a facility in Williston to soften the blow of losing the hospital. In her, David's legacy continues to live on.

His legacy in the rural health care community started at South Carolina AHEC, where he became assistant director. He was also a regional faculty member of the American Heart Association.  Aside from his passion for health care, he loved the outdoors, Edisto Beach and cooking. He is survived by his three children and four grandchildren.

Life may not be fair; however, the legacy of David Hayden made it far more equitable and enjoyable for many people. The SCPHCA would like to pass along our condolences to his family and loved ones.

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