“One of my favorite patients of all time was a lady who called herself ‘Miss Kitty,’” begins Dr. Randy Ferrance. “She carried a cane with her everywhere. The first time I met her, I asked if she needed it for balance or to help her walk. She said neither! She said she carried the cane in case she saw a good-looking man. She would then hook him around the ankle to pull him closer to get a better look,” he laughs.
Dr. Randy Ferrance
is the medical director for InnovAge’s four PACE
centers in Virginia, located in the communities of Richmond
, the Roanoke Valley
, and Newport News
. In addition to caring for older adults professionally, he is also a family caregiver himself.
“To me, you look after family,” he says. Since finishing his medical degree, Dr. Ferrance and his wife have cared for both of their parents, moving his wife’s parents into their home. “We’ve been caregivers for 28 years, and to me, it’s always been a sacred duty.”
Left to right: Dr. Ferrance and his wife Terry pictured with parents;
Dr. Ferrance and Terry at Grand Canyon
His route to the Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE)
and to caring for older adults started with chiropractic work, then moved into emergency and internal medicine, and pediatrics, before becoming a medical director in hospice care. “I wanted to do more. I backed into the PACE world [and] I’m far more fulfilled in what I do now.”
“Having the entire interdisciplinary team, or IDT
, is great,” he explains. “Under one roof, we not only have physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech and language pathology
, and recreational therapy,
we also have transportation
, social work, primary care, and nursing,” he says, knowing he’s not yet listed everything. “We have all those services in one place. We come together as a team, and put that whole picture together, so we can wrap a care plan around our participants.”
Dr. Ferrance has been a part of PACE for several years, and the Virginia community for most of his medical career. He’s committed to sharing his knowledge and experience with those entering the field. “It’s important to teach the folks coming behind us. A lot of the concepts we go by, discussing goals of care and explaining risks and benefits, is gaining traction in healthcare,” he says. “It’s not only getting to know the patient but understanding what’s important to them and letting them make their own decisions. We need to teach that to medical students and residents and be sure they don’t lose track of the human side in medicine.”
Over the years, Dr. Ferrance has also stayed committed to his favorite hobbies. He is a skilled woodworker, making everything from pens and trays to tables. He’s currently working on a set of tables out of live edge black walnut and epoxy. “I built a shop in my backyard a few years ago. I don’t need to chase my wife’s car out of the garage anymore,” he laughs.
Wood pens created by Dr. Ferrance
He also has a passion for working with sound and music. Dr. Ferrance was a radio host in high school and started DJing in college. “When I went to chiropractic college, I did club work, weddings, and parties,” he says. “When my kids got married, they all wanted me to DJ for them, so I had an excuse to replace my equipment with really good stuff. It was still cheaper than hiring a DJ!” Dr. Ferrance also DJs for the Richmond center’s annual Senior Prom. “I have occasionally threatened people that if they don’t dance, I will sing. If they ever heard me sing, they would definitely dance!”
Having fun and building strong relationships with both participants and staff has been a mainstay for Dr. Ferrance. That warm approach is recognized and appreciated by others.
“Randy has an almost super-human ability to meet people where they are,” says Dr. Stephanie Arnold
, medical director at InnovAge’s Richmond center. “It is so fun to work with him. I can't think of any other physicians who can DJ a party for our participants, mentor other providers in difficult management, and get the entire IDT giggling before 10 a.m. He is the best boss I've ever worked for.”
Dr. Ferrance credits the people around him. “It’s really a good, loyal group of people who really enjoy doing what they are doing. That means everything to me,” he says. Of the older adults he works with daily, he says, “Meeting the participant where they are and making their goals and their wishes the center of everything we do, to me, it’s what it’s all about.”