Charles D. Beard Jr.
Mr. Charles D. Beard Jr. has been called the father of the privatization of home health care in Alabama. As a staunch champion and advocate of home health nurses in the state, Mr. Beard revolutionized home health care as a result of his own experiences trying to find in-home care for his mother and other elderly relatives while stationed away from his native Birmingham. Mr. Beard enlisted in the Army Air Corps during World War II and became the copilot on a B-17 Flying Fortress that was part of the Eighth Air Force flying missions into Germany. His plane was shot down over Belgium and he was rescued by the Belgian Underground. He returned home to Birmingham and attended The University of Alabama. Despite having no prior formal education or involvement in health care, when Mr. Beard discovered the public’s extremely limited choice of providers in Alabama, he advocated that more committed private citizens take an active role to meet the needs of the state’s homebound elderly and disabled. In 1970, Mr. Beard’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to found a company that would later be named Alacare, one of Alabama’s first privately sponsored home care agencies. He believed that nurses were able to provide highly skilled care in the home setting. Furthermore, compassionate and skillful care from educated nurses using the most up-to-date methods and technology was a sound solution to meeting the needs of Alabama’s homebound elderly and disabled. Under his leadership, Alacare was one of the founding members of what is now the Homecare Association of Alabama and the American Association for Homecare. Through his commitment to serving homebound patients, Mr. Beard has gained much respect for his shared vision of home health care and its need for skilled nurses.