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BLD alum puts heart and soul into his work

Andre Lee standing next to logo of Heart and Soul Hospice

Andre Lee considers himself a lucky guy. And Lee, co-founder of Heart’n Soul Hospice in Nashville, Tenn., has made the most out of that luck.

Lee graduated in 1966 with a degree in medical technology (now known as Medical Laboratory Science in MSU’s Biomedical Laboratory Diagnostics Program). During his time at MSU, he was also a part of the Army ROTC program.

After completing an internship at a hospital in the Detroit, Mich., area, he enlisted in the Army as an officer and oversaw two different laboratories in Maryland and Colorado for six years.

When he finished his military service, Lee applied to Cornell University to pursue his master’s degree. With “$1,000 to his name” he traveled to New York and met with Cornell admissions staff in his Army uniform. By the end of the visit, he was awarded a full-ride scholarship to study health administration.

Following graduation, Lee returned to Michigan to work as a hospital administrator in Detroit. When the hospital’s chief executive officer resigned three months later, the hospital board hired Lee for the position.

“All of a sudden I was a CEO (of a hospital) after just finishing graduate school! That’s pure luck,” Lee said of the opportunity.

While in this position, he used the GI Bill to study public administration and earn his Ph.D. through Nova Southeastern University, a Florida-based institution that allowed him to take courses in Michigan.

After working at several hospitals and earning his Ph.D., Lee was looking to change careers.

“I thought about home healthcare, but I wasn’t too excited about doing that,” Lee said.

At a health conference, Lee met a Black woman who worked for a financial aid government agency, and she asked if he had ever thought about going into hospice care. She relayed that  when she attended National Hospice Association meetings, there were typically about 600 participants, yet there were never more than four or five Black people in attendance.

“Clearly, there was a need for Black representation in hospice,” Lee said.

From that conversation, Lee investigated opening a hospice care center. The challenge was he didn’t know how to start one and there wasn’t a manual on how to begin. He eventually located a gentleman in California who had started one, and Lee flew out to meet with him.

From there, Lee never looked back. He has opened several hospice care centers, including his most recent venture—Heart’n Soul Hospice—with fellow Michigan State alum Dave Turner.

Lee and Turner hope to reach more of the Black community with this hospice care, but it has been slow going.

“We have been trying to (educate) through the Black churches, but it has been difficult,” Lee said. “You have to reach them in order to reach the Black community.”

Being a Black-owned hospice care center, Lee likes to think they are symbolic for Black people,  but they don’t discriminate.

“We have always emphasized that Heart’n Soul is here to help people who are transitioning,” Lee said. “We are all dedicated (health) professionals who love to help people.”

Lee, who has already written several books, intends to write one on minority care or hospice care in the minority community.