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Whether whisking wounded soldiers to home-front hospitals or swiftly helping the sick at USA Mitchell Cancer Institute, Richard Foote always has one goal: providing the best patient care possible.
“I like taking care of people, and I like to be able to see the results of what we do,” said Foote, who became MCI’s Director of Nursing Services in November.
Foote brings to MCI extensive nursing experience both in the civilian and military realms. “I often say I have two lives: a military life and civilian life,” he said.
For 24 years, Foote, 46, has served in the Reserves, first with the U.S. Navy and the last 12 years as a flight nurse with the U.S. Air Force.
“There is something about picking a patient up in a terrible location and taking them to where they can get better care,” said Foote, who currently serves as the chief nurse of the 514th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron based at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey.
Foote is full-time at MCI but he still reports to McGuire three to four days a month. He spends most nights fielding phone calls and emails for his reservist job, overseeing 122 officers and enlisted. Foote has been based out of several U.S. Air Force bases and also served in Afghanistan, and Iraq.
“In both areas, it was a combat zone, and we were shot at and shelled,” he said. “People were also trying to get to us on the base.”
Foote worked aboard various aircraft that shuttled 20 to 72 passengers from field hospitals to domestic hospitals. The goal: transport soldiers to their home base within 72 hours of injury.
“I flew over 300 missions in the U.S. with these patients, and I am still doing it,” Foote said. “I love it. I think the job we do is very important. We are moving patients who are injured, hurt and mentally ill closer to their families and to hospitals where they can receive advanced treatment. To me, it is a phenomenal job and a difficult job, especially when you are moving troops who have been injured in combat.”
Foote brings the same dedication to MCI.
“I am very committed and enthusiastic about nursing and MCI,” he said. “Every day, I try to go out and talk to patients and visit with them. I address patient complaints about the care they receive. It is very important to me that I talk with our patients.”
Foote added that MCI is an excellent institution with a great team.
“It is great to know that patients feel the level of care at MCI is already phenomenal,” he said. “I have also been quite pleased with the level of professionalism and care of the nurses at MCI. My goal is to increase patient satisfaction and increase the quality of care delivered. I also want to enhance nursing retention and decrease patient wait times in our infusion area and clinics.”
Foote’s extensive career has always blended military and civilian work.
After graduating from Pensacola Catholic High School, Foote joined the U.S. Navy Reserves and finished nursing school at Spring Hill College several years later.
He worked at the coronary unit at USA Medical Center and at the emergency room at Providence Hospital. Concurrently, he also served as a commissioned ensign in the ICU at Naval Hospital Pensacola. He worked as a travel nurse in San Francisco, San Jose and Memphis.
In 2004, he transferred from Navy to Air Force reserves. “When I joined the Air Force, I joined because I was not going to travel as much,” he said. “Within six months, I was a flight nurse, the second Gulf War had started, and I was deployed in the states. In 2010, I was deployed to Afghanistan and was sent to Iraq as well.”
While in Iraq, Foote instructed in an Aeromedical Evacuation course for the Iraqi military forces.
Domestically, he was stationed at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, D.C., and Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, where he worked for a dozen years as chief of standardization and evaluation of Aeromedical Evacuation.
His career also included a stint from 2008 to 2010 as a flight nurse with Hospital Wing, the Memphis Medical Center Air Ambulance Service. He was selected to attend Air Command and Staff College in Montgomery, where he worked at Jackson Hospital as director of the cardiology and progressive care units before becoming director of nursing operations. Foote has been a director over the emergency department, pediatrics and several medical surgical departments.
Foote is now focused on delivering the best patient care possible at MCI’s facilities in Mobile and Fairhope as well as working with USA Health to encourage cooperation among USA Medical Center, USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital and MCI. The objective is seamless care.
“The patient should feel like they are getting the same level of care and same attention no matter where they are in the system of hospitals and clinics,” Foote said.
Foote’s wife, Heather, is a clinical psychologist at the Gulf Coast Veteran’s Administration in Mobile. They have two children, Jackson, 11, and Spencer, 9.
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