If you get the pleasure of walking by Rich- ard “Ricky” Donovan in the hallway of the hospital, he will speak to you. A simple hello, at the least, can brighten anyone’s day. Ricky is an environmental service worker for the Vanderbilt Bedford Hospital. He makes sure every hallway, bathroom, waiting room, common area, and hospital room is in the cleanest and safest shape it can be for the patients, staff, and visitors.
Ricky has always called Shelbyville home and is proud of it. Born and raised here, he’s spent sixty five years in the town. Many here are proud of Shelbyville for the hometown feel; Ricky is a part of the reason it feels like home for so many. He makes a point, inside the hospital and out, to speak to everyone he can. He believes the small gesture of kindness can brighten every day, even the bad ones. And he is right.
“We try to make eye contact and to speak to everyone. If I saw you walking down the hall I’d smile and ask how you’re doing,” Ricky said. “I try to make everyone feel comfort- able. The hospital is sometimes not the best place for someone to feel comfortable… Everyone has doubts sometimes, and I guess if we talked to people we could give them more light.”
During the pandemic, Ricky felt that working in the hospital meant he was helping out however he could. And while hospitals were the frontline of the battle against the virus, he still felt safe at work. Although Ricky was working hard with the rest of the team to keep the hospital clean, he gave all the credit to the hospital staff and administration for giving them what they needed. Masks, supplies, and even gowns were provided to keep everyone safe. “I figured I was safer at the hospital than I’d be anywhere else,” he said. The extensive and regular cleaning prevented unnecessary spread of the virus.
As he looked back on the pandemic, kindness and compassion stood out the most.“You saw the best out of people,” he said. Ricky said the administration for the hospital was on the floor asking what he needed.
The hometown feel of Shelbyville isn’t here by accident. It’s people like Ricky who make every day a little brighter. Through a pandemic or not, Ricky encourages everyone to look to the Lord and let Him guide every step you take. “You have to put your faith in the Lord and take it one step at a time,” he said. “He will lead us through it.”
Today, tomorrow, and the next day in Shel- byville will be a special day because of people like Ricky Donovan.
“We shouldn’t be so judgemental when you see people—we shouldnt be judgmental anyways, but we as humans are,” he said. “But you need to give everybody a chance.” -GN